Kingston, Jamaica (AFP) – Zach Stephen has found himself in an unusual situation: He is Manchester City’s second-choice goalkeeper, but first plays for the United States.
Matt Turner of the New England Revolution started the early playoffs and was replaced by Stephen in a 2-1 win over Costa Rica last month. Stephen made two saves on Friday in a 2-0 win over Mexico and will start on Tuesday when the Americans visit Jamaica.
“It was a tough decision,” USA coach Greg Berhalter said on Monday. “It wasn’t easy, it just depended on how well Matt played.”
The United States beat Jamaica 2-0 on October 7, which was boosted by the return of West Ham striker Michael Antonio and Aston Villa winger Leon Bailey.
The Americans will not have midfielder Weston McKinney and defender Myles Robinson, both of whom are suspended in one game due to a card pileup.
Berhalter prefers Stephen for his takeover role.
“We see how games have evolved and note that there are a number of properties that we can hold in these games that we don’t,” Berhalter said. “We think Zach is strong with his feet and that’s what we’re used to making decisions.”
In September, Stephen experienced back cramps after testing positive for COVID-19. He returned to the team on October 13 against Costa Rica in Columbus, Ohio, where he played with the crew from 2016 to 2019. Stephen’s head-kick led to Keysher Fuller’s goal after a minute of play, but the United States crowded in with goals. Dest and Tim Weah to win 2-1.
Stephen replaces the Brazilian Ederson, 28, with City.
For now, Steffen is coveted about ownership.
“It also depends on Zach keeping his shape. We don’t hesitate to change goalkeepers,” Berhalter said. “We know the competition is very close and they are putting pressure on each other.”
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