“Dream big, stay humble, and work hard.”
That was Zack Steffen’s advice to young, aspiring goalkeepers following the official announcement of Steffen earning Major League Soccer’s 2018 Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year Award on Tuesday, Nov. 6.
“It was a goal of mine to get this accolade, and I’ve been working hard for it,” Steffen said.
The Columbus Crew SC ‘keeper, who became the second-youngest player to earn the award, has continued his record-setting climb after a breakthrough year in 2017.
“I wanted to come into this year having a better year than I did last year and use last year as a foundation to push me to grow and go up with the national team and do well with them and come back to [Crew SC] and have a good year with [Crew SC] and make the playoffs and bring home a Cup to Columbus.”
In addition to tying the Club record for shutouts in a single regular season (10), the 23-year-old set a new Black & Gold Club record with 525 consecutive minutes of shutout action, spanning from April 28 to June 13.
Following Crew SC’s 1-0 shutout over the New York Red Bulls in Leg 1 of the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals on Nov. 1, Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter noted Zack’s ability to come through when called upon.
“The mark of a goalie who is worth his weight in gold is a goalie that can come up with a big save even though he doesn’t have a lot to do, and that was exactly what Zack did [on Sunday],” Berhalter said. “To me, that was a different level that he showed he has.”
For Steffen and any aspiring player – goalkeeper or not – it comes down to the details.
“I think it’s just the little details, focusing on as much as you can, but also trying to keep a clear mind and play,” Steffen said. “The small things will take you very far if you stay focused with them.”
Steffen lauded his surroundings and willingness to learn from his mistakes as big reasons as to why he is where he is.
“Just repetition with training and having good coaches and teammates that push you, day-in and day-out, and learning from not making those saves and getting set early and getting a good push,” Steffen said.
Speaking on what drives him personally, the Downingtown, Pa. native put it succinctly.
“We get a short time on this earth and even a shorter time playing this game that we love, and I just want to do the best that I can for as long as I can.”
The Black & Gold face the Red Bulls in Leg 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Nov. 11 at Red Bull Arena. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.