Stu Holden thinks something might have ‘gone on behind the scenes’ with Zack Steffen and USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter after the goalkeeper was dropped from the World Cup squad
Speculation is rife following the surprised omission of goalkeeper Zack Steffen from the 2022 United States World Cup roster.
Steffen, who this season is on loan at English second-tier team Middlesbrough from English champion Manchester City, was once far and away considered the United States no.1 keeper, leaving both fans and media members questioning why he was left off of the roster for Qatar.
One of those media members was former USMNT midfielder Stuart Holden, who raised the question of whether or not something happened between Steffen and head coach Gregg Berhalter behind the scenes.
Former USMNT midfielder Stuart Holden questioned if something happened behind the scenes with Gregg Berhalter and Zack Steffen
Steffen at USMNT training before a 2019 friendly against Costa Rica in San Jose, California
‘I still wonder if there’s some part that has gone on behind the scenes with Steffen and Berhalter, but you can’t say Berhalter wasn’t brave in his decision,’ he said.
Holden went on the reference that Steffen was originally a ‘Berhalter guy’ having played under him and succeeded at the club level along with originally being his go to keeper for the national team.
‘This is a guy I think that we can unanimously agree was Berhalter guy. With him in Columbus. He brought him back from Europe,’ said Holden.
‘He had been the starter for this national team, even when not playing well. And now he’s not on the roster.’
United States men’s national team soccer coach Gregg Berhalter smiles, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, in New York, as the team’s roster for the upcoming World Cup in Qatar is announced.
Holden went on to further speculated that perhaps it could have been due to the roster dynamics and Steffen potentially being upset at being a backup.
‘I also think in his mind he’s saying Turner’s the no.1. It then becomes the team around that. And the collective and the dynamic. So Sean Johnson your assuming is your no.2. Your no.3 guy historically never plays in a World Cup,’ Holden said.
‘It’s a guy that’s good around the team. It’s a glue guy, he’s fun, he’s a good trainer, he pushes guys. I wonder if he said Zach Steffen, you’re not my no.1, he wouldn’t be happy as a no.3.’
‘You want your no.1 keeper the confidence that you’re my guy. And you’re not looking over your shoulder thinking if I have one mess up it’s going to be Zach Steffen in there.’
Steffen has 29 caps for the US national team. It starts its World Cup against Wales on November 21 and then follows it with games against England and Iran.
Steffen once played for Berhalter when the two were both at Columbus Crew