Back tightness has sidelined goalkeeper Zack Steffen, at least for the El Salvador WCQ. (USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Expect Matt Turner to be in the nets for the U.S. in its World Cup qualifier against El Salvador on Thursday night.
Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who started the last three qualifiers for the U.S. men’s national team, remained in Manchester due to the recurrence of back tightness.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter confirmed Wednesday that Steffen was not with the team for its match in Columbus, Ohio.
“He’s listed as day-to-day, getting treatment in Manchester,” Berhalter said during a Zoom call with the media on Wednesday. “We’re going see if and when he can make the trip, if makes sense based on his health.”
Steffen, who forged his reputation as a superior goalkeeper in the Ohio capital with the Columbus Crew before moving to Manchester City (English Premier League), missed the USA’s Concacaf Octagonal opener, a scoreless draw at El Salvador on Sept. 2 due to back spasms. He tested positive for COVID-19 and was sidelined for the 1-1 home draw with Canada and the 4-1 win at Honduras during the September window.
Turner, who was one of the USA’s stars during its Concacaf Gold Cup triumph, started the first five qualifiers as the team registered a 2-1-2 record, conceding three goals while recording three shutouts.
Steffen was back in goal for the 2-1 home win over Costa Rica in Columbus, as he allowed a opening-minute score before putting in a solid performance. He played well in the 2-0 victory over Mexico in Cincinnati on Nov. 12 before backstopping the USMNT’s 1-1 draw in Jamaica four days later.
Defender DeAndre Yedlin arrived in camp on Wednesday as his arrival was delayed due to an ice storm.
“They were forced to cancel a lot of flights, so he wasn’t able to get out,” Berhalter said. “He’ll be arriving today. Everybody else is ready to go.”
The Columbus game kicks off the Americans’ winter window of qualifiers. They visit Canada in Hamilton, Ontario on Sunday before hosting Honduras in St. Paul, Minn. on Feb. 2.