Zack Steffen, the Downingtown-bred No. 1 goalkeeper on the U.S. men’s soccer team’s depth chart, has withdrawn from the Americans’ upcoming games in June because of family issues.
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced the news Friday morning, and said Sean Johnson of New York City FC was called in as a replacement.
Steffen, 27, probably won’t be dethroned on the depth chart because of his absence. U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter rates him highly, even though he’s only the backup netminder for England’s Manchester City.
The door will open now for Matt Turner of the New England Revolution to stake a significant claim. Scouts generally regard Turner as a better shot stopper, with Steffen viewed as an adequate shot stopper and superior distributor of the ball.
The latter trait matters in manager Gregg Berhalter’s playbook, where anyone on the back line should be skilled enough to pass ahead to midfielders and forwards.
Turner, also 27, is expected to make his last start for New England before U.S. camp on Saturday, when the Revolution host the Union in Foxborough, Mass. (7:30 p.m., PHL17). A few weeks after he returns to his MLS club, he’ll leave again, as a $7 million-plus transfer to England’s Arsenal awaits in July.
It seems likely that Turner will back up starter Aaron Ramsdale in North London, unless the American is loaned elsewhere to get him playing time before the World Cup.
As for Johnson, the 32-year-old is a reliable and well-liked player who last year backstopped NYCFC to the MLS Cup title. He’s one of three competitors for the No. 3 place on the depth chart, along with 26-year-old Ethan Horvath (who’s also on this U.S. squad) and 18-year-old Gabriel Slonina.
Horvath is the backup for England’s Nottingham Forest, which on Sunday plays in the playoff final for promotion to England’s Premier League. He’ll presumably watch from the bench again as Forest tries to return to England’s top flight for the first time since 1999, facing Huddersfield Town at Wembley Stadium (11:30 a.m., ESPN+).
Slonina has had some eye-catching performances for the Chicago Fire, played for U.S. youth national teams, and has taken part in a few senior U.S. training camps. As a Polish-American dual national, Slonina was heavily courted by Poland’s national team this year, but he recently pledged his future to the United States.
The U.S. will play four games in June: vs. Morocco on Wednesday in Cincinnati; vs. Uruguay on June 5 in Kansas City, Kan.; vs. Grenada on June 10 in Austin, Texas; and June 14 at El Salvador.
The first two games are friendlies against fellow participants in this autumn’s World Cup, with some big names expected to line up across the field. Morocco is led by Youssef En-Nesyri of Sevilla and Achraf Hakimi of Paris Saint-Germain; Uruguay‘s stars include Federico Valverde of Real Madrid and Edinson Cavani of Manchester United.
Valverde likely will play in Saturday’s UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool in suburban Paris, with TV coverage on CBS and Univision’s broadcast networks. Kickoff is at 3 p.m., with pregame shows on both channels; streaming is on CBS’ Paramount+ and Univision’s ViX.
The U.S.’ two games against continental opponents begin the new edition of Concacaf’s Nations League tournament, whose first title the Americans won last May.
Also of note, the three home games are the last contests on home soil the U.S. will play before the World Cup, which kicks off Nov. 21 in Qatar.
Updated U.S. roster
Goalkeepers (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest, England), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)
Defenders (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld, Germany), Reggie Cannon (Boavista, Portugal), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic, Scotland), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes, France), Antonee Robinson (Fulham, England), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach, Germany), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders (8): Kellyn Acosta (Los Angeles FC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig, Germany), Luca de la Torre (Heracles Almelo, Netherlands), Weston McKennie (Juventus, Italy), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montréal), Yunus Musah (Valencia, Spain), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich, Germany)
Forwards (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea, England), Tim Weah (Lille, France), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor, Turkey)