He froze! USMNT's Zack Steffen caught cold as Middlesbrough keeper's mistake leads to Coventry Championship play-off semi-final winner

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Zack Steffen Middlesbrough playoff 2022-23
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USMNT and Middlesbrough goalkeeper Zack Steffen was stuck in two minds for long enough to concede a goal in the Championship play-off semi-finals.
  • Middlesbrough had chance to reach PL
  • But conceded goal in 57th minute of second leg
  • Steffen froze briefly on ball over the top

WHAT HAPPENED? It was only a brief pause as Coventry played a ball over the top, with Steffen unsure whether to charge out or retreat, but it was enough to ensure he had no chance of reaching the ball. Gustavo Hamer shot past him as he scrambled back, giving Coventry a 1-0 aggregate lead in the Championship promotion play-off semi-final second leg. That scoreline held as Middlesbrough's chances of being promoted to the Premier League were extinguished.

In fairness to Steffen, it was a difficult in-between ball to handle, but for a goalkeeper who aspires to be a starter at the 2026 World Cup in his home country, he may have been able to do better - and the same could be said of his attempt to save the shot.

Steffen Middlesbrough Coventry screenshot split

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Steffen has had an up-and-down season while on loan in the Championship from Manchester City, including a nine-save performance in February. He was omitted from the United States men's national team's 2022 World Cup squad after for years appearing to be the long-term heir to American legend Tim Howard.


Zack Steffen Middlesbrough Coventry playoff 2022-23

Zack Steffen 2022-23

Zack Steffen USMNT 2023

WHAT NEXT? He has no intention of returning to Pep Guardiola's team, and it's unclear whether he plans to remain in England at all. His career began in the U.S. as he moved up from college soccer at the University of Maryland all the way to MLS before spending a year in the Bundesliga ahead of his switch to Manchester City.