ANNAPOLIS, Maryland -- U.S. men's goalkeeper Zack Steffen has admitted that he "has a lot of feelings" heading into this summer, but that his current focus remains on helping the U.S. retain the Gold Cup.
The presumptive No. 1 keeper has plenty on his mind. In addition to his duties with the U.S., there will be a new club to become acquainted with as Steffen's transfer to Manchester City becomes official on July 9. That has also meant saying goodbye to previous club the Columbus Crew.
"There's a lot of nerves, a lot of excitement, a little bit of sadness leaving the chapter in Columbus," he said following Monday's training session on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy. "But I'm really focused on the Gold Cup and doing well here, and raising the trophy here, and then I'll focus on what lies next."
Steffen is aware of the role he is attempting to fill given the long line of goalkeepers that have starred in England as well with the U.S., a group that includes Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard. But it is a role he is intent on embracing.
"It's a big expectation, and a lot of pressure, but I like that," he said about starting for the U.S. "It will make me better. It will make the players around me better. It's an honor, obviously to be [mentioned] with those names. But I still have a long way to go, I'm young, and it's really just started."
Steffen added that he had spent some time talking to Howard about the role following the Crew's game in Colorado a few weeks ago.
"He's there for anything I need, and that means a lot to me," said Steffen about Howard.
Steffen made it clear that he owes a great deal to the Crew. His move there followed a disappointing stint with German club Freiburg, one that saw him limited to 14 appearances with their reserve team. But in Columbus, Steffen was the undisputed No. 1 and won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2018.
"I went there with the mentality of trying to find my passion again for soccer and happiness," he said. "I found a lot more than that just in Columbus. It was a time I'll never forget."
Steffen received an emotional sendoff following Saturday's 2-2 draw with New York City FC. Prior to the game he received a framed replica jersey. Afterward, there was a video montage, and he walked around the field at MAPFRE Stadium, posed for selfies as well as signing countless autographs.
"Leaving [Sunday] there was definitely some emotional moments," he said. "But that's good, that means Columbus was a special time for me."