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Z. Steffen

'Heartbroken' - Steffen reveals pain of being left out of USMNT World Cup squad

16:01 WAT 12/12/2022
Zack Steffen Middlesbrough 2022
Zack Steffen has opened up on his World Cup heartbreak, after the Manchester City loanee was left out of the USMNT squad that travelled to Qatar.
  • Steffen missed out World Cup
  • Hasn't played for USMNT since March
  • 'Heartbroken' over decision

WHAT HAPPENED? Steffen only played nine times for Manchester City across the 2021/22 campaign and was sent on loan to Middlesbrough after a pretty torrid showing in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool. While the 27-year-old has made the number-one shirt his own at 'Boro, he only managed to keep four clean sheets prior to the World Cup interval. On that basis, Berhalter opted to leave Steffen at home, denying him the chance of playing at the World Cup, a decision that the USMNT boss himself described as 'heartbreaking.'

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to The Athletic, he said: "Obviously it was a big blow. I definitely was heartbroken and it takes time to get over it. Now that it's been some time and I've had some reflection, it's in the past. I move on. I'm just using that as motivation. Like I say, that's how life goes, how football goes.

"There's only 26 players who can go. It's just how it is. It hurt. I try to be understanding and see both sides of everything, but it was tough, the last month, to deal with this. I was able to watch the games. It wasn't easy. But I still wanted to support them, see them do the best they can, prove the world wrong - that we can play and we're a force to be reckoned with. It was hard to do that, but we're only in the World Cup every four years."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: It seems the decision to leave Steffen out was made pretty early with his last appearance for the USMNT coming in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Costa Rica back in March. It's a decision that didn't work out too badly for Berhalter as Matt Turner conceded just a single goal in the group stage, including clean sheets against England and Iran, before their round of 16 exit to the Netherlands.

IN THREE PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT FOR STEFFEN? His primary objective will be to play as well as he can for Middlesbrough in order to attract regular first team football going forward. He's played second-fiddle to Ederson for quite some time and will need that football if he's to play his way back into Berhalter's plans.