With a July 9 move to Manchester City, Zack Steffen’s days with Columbus Crew SC are already numbered. Add in this summer’s Gold Cup and now a nagging foot injury, and that window has become increasingly smaller.
The 24-year-old goalkeeper missed last weekend’s 3-0 loss to Los Angeles Football Club, with Joe Bendik filling in. Steffen remains out of training with the injury, according to Jacob Myers of The Columbus Dispatch.
Head coach Caleb Porter said the injury might have occurred in last Wednesday’s 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy or in the buildup to the LAFC game. The 2018 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was spotted pregame in a protective boot.
“We trained a group that didn’t play on Wednesday and he said his foot got more and more sore as the day went on, then he showed up Friday morning and he had a swollen foot that was bruised,” Porter said after the LAFC match. “He thinks he maybe kicked something during in the game Wednesday or took a knock in the game Wednesday and it gradually got worse and worse. He’s in a walking boot, he couldn’t put weight on it. We had him come in this morning to see if he was any better and it wasn’t any better.”
Whatever the diagnosis ultimately is, it could alter Gregg Berhalter’s roster for this summer’s Gold Cup.
The US men's national team plays their first tune-up game June 5 against Jamaica at D.C. United’s Audi Field, followed by another June 9 against Venezeula at FC Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium. Group D play is set to begin June 18 against Guyana. Steffen has been a big part of Berhalter’s plans since he took over from interim manager Dave Sarachan.
On the club level, Columbus could certainly use Steffen for his final games in MLS. They’re 1-6 in their last seven matches, and also have seen their defense decimated by injuries.
Outside backs Milton Valenzuela and Harrison Afful are both out long-term, while left back Waylon Francis was also injured prior to the LAFC game. Francis, if shelved indefinitely, could miss the Gold Cup with Costa Rica.
“Not clear yet on that,” Porter told The Dispatch of the recovery timeline for Steffen and Francis. “We’re evaluating each, day to day. I’ll have a more firm update probably at the end of the week."