Zack Steffen saw his first action for Manchester City on Thursday, with the U.S. men's national team's presumptive No. 1 goalkeeper starting the club's 2-1 win over Bournemouth as the club kicked off a run at a fourth straight League Cup title.
Man City manager Pep Guardiola has frequently turned to his backup goalkeepers in domestic cup play to give Brazilian starter Ederson a break, and in the most recent past that has meant time for Chilean veteran Claudio Bravo. With Bravo off to Real Betis and Steffen back with his parent club after spending last season on loan with Fortuna Dusseldorf, that means the opportunities are there for the American.
He backstopped a very experimental team for the third-round matchup, with a number of Man City regulars being kept out of action and the likes of Liam Delap (the 17-year-old son of former Premier League midfielder Rory Delap), Taylor Harwood-Bellis, Tommy Doyle and Adrian Bernabe being given starts as well. New signing Ferran Torres also made his first start for City.
Delap's opener and Phil Foden's 75th-minute winner accounted for Man City's scoring, while Steffen made one key intervention when called upon just before the hour mark. He raced off his line to make an important, sweeper-keeper-like clearance to prevent Sam Surridge from scoring his second goal of the game with it 1-1 at the time.
"Well the goal we conceded was almost unstoppable. We didn’t defend the shot properly," Guardiola said in his postgame assessment. "After, he saved on a counterattack. He was calm. He was safe. He gave a good performance."
In taking the field, Steffen joins Claudio Reyna and DaMarcus Beasley as Americans to feature for Man City's men's team in the modern era. (Carli Lloyd and Daphne Corboz previously played for Man City Women, while Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis are currently at the club). U.S. center back Erik Palmer-Brown is currently on Man City's books, too, but he's been on loan at various clubs since leaving Sporting Kansas City for Manchester after the 2017 MLS season. Mix Diskerud is owned by Man City as well, though he has never played for the club and has been on loan since January 2018.
If recent history is any indication, then Steffen could have a number of more appearances ahead of him in the competition. In addition to winning the last three League Cup titles, City has won four of the last five and five of the last seven.
Man City will face Burnley in the fourth round (the round of 16) after the Clarets defeated Millwall earlier in the week.