Zack Steffen delivers eye-popping performance in Bundesliga debut

Asked on the eve of his first Bundesliga season what his personal goal was, Zack Steffen said it was to become the No. 1 keeper at Fortuna Duesseldorf and stay the No. 1 keeper.

With last year's starting keeper Michael Rensing out with a shoulder injury suffered in a biking accident in preseason, Steffen was quickly thrust into a starting role on goal after arriving late for preseason camp following the Gold Cup.

And on the basis of his first game, Steffen will be hard to dislodge in goal.

The 24-year-old keeper made nine saves in his Bundesliga debut and held off Werder Bremen on the road with a man-of-the-match performance in the second half for a 3-1 win.

Bremen had a huge edge in possession but trailed when Kenan Karaman put Fortuna ahead for good at 2-1 in the 52nd minute.

Steffen then showed off his shot-stopping skills with two huge saves on a Nuri Sahin shot in the 55th minute and a Niclas Fuellkrug header from close range in the 70th minute. He even stopped fellow American Josh Sargent, who had come on late in the game, after Fortuna went ahead 3-1.

"It's a lot of new challenges for me," Steffen told, "and I want to perform and execute my job. I've got a good group of guys around me, a good coaching staff to lift me up and give me confidence, and make me feel at home."

This is Steffen's second stint in Germany. He signed with Freiburg after two seasons at the University of Maryland, but he only played on its second team and left for the Columbus Crew before the 2016-17 German season.

"It's very fast, very technical," Steffen said of the Bundesliga. "You always have to be switched on, stay tuned in and stay focused. It's making me better day by day."

Fortuna coach Friedhelm Funkel said his team was lucky to win and thanked his sporting director, Lutz Pfannenstiel, for signing Steffen on loan from Manchester City.

"For a goalkeeper," Pfannenstiel said on Sky after the game, "it is very important to deliver a match-winning performance right away in the first game."
9 comments about "Zack Steffen delivers eye-popping performance in Bundesliga debut".
  1. Bob Ashpole, August 18, 2019 at 7:56 a.m.

    Nine saves, but Fox didn't show even 1 of them in the highlights clip. I was disappointed.

  2. Wooden Ships replied, August 18, 2019 at 10:04 a.m.

    The lack of highlight coverage, featuring prominent and up and coming US players, is really unforgivable in my opinion. At minimum a cursory look is required. Poor pre-show planning. 

  3. Paul Berry replied, August 18, 2019 at 7:57 p.m.

    I'm afraid Fox and ESPN are penny pinching by using other media company's production. For instance, ESPN had no control over the live feed for the Campeones Cup with the announcers hoping that TUDN would show a replay. Fox was the same with the Women's World Cup. Even the MLS Highlights Show on ESPN+ is produced by Sky TV in the UK.

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, August 18, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.

    Fox published the highlights clip on youtube, not Sky TV.

  5. Valerie Metzler, August 18, 2019 at 11:11 a.m.

    Disappointing "highlights, for sure.

  6. R2 Dad, August 18, 2019 at 4:25 p.m.

    We need the 10 minute, extended highlights version. Unfortunately, US media is convinced all we want to watch are homeruns/goals/baskets. C'mon, nitwit media types! You can bury ads in a 10 minute clip, increase ad revenue, get paid more--you know, more money? I could draw them a picture, but that might just get too confusing for idiot marketing and attorney types who all failed math and science. D'oh!

  7. humble 1, August 19, 2019 at 10:35 a.m.

    Good on Zack, hope he keeps it up.  I've never seen 'highlights' that show all the keeper saves - anywhere.  Maybe check on FD's website in the next few days.  Gaffs, yes, those make it.  You can watch the entire match on foxsoccer2go - this is almost a gift - take it :-).  Even my friends in Uruguay with their population of 3M who have far more prospects abroad don't have all their up-and-comers highlights.  

  8. R2 Dad replied, August 19, 2019 at 11:54 p.m.

    If I never ask, I will most certainly never get....

  9. Bob Ashpole replied, August 22, 2019 at 10 p.m.

    With 1 memorable special exception (Howard's 16-save performance in 2014 against Belgium), I have never seen "highlights" that show all the keeper saves either, but have seen plenty that showed the one best keeper save.

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