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USMNT, Columbus keeper Steffen stays ready amid transfer rumors

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Zack Steffen wasn’t going to tip his hand, but the 2018 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year knows you’re reading all the reports of him transferring from the Columbus Crew to Manchester City and he’s just getting used to it, too.

“It’s definitely been a process I’m not really used to, but a flattering feeling,” Steffen told ProSoccerTalk on behalf of Allstate’s awarding of $20,000 in scholarships to college-bound players.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines – Wk 16 ]

“Whatever happens I have my family, friends and close people pushing me and will always be there. It’s great to get attention and the feeling of being wanted, but you’ve gotta keep a level head and keep working hard to be the best you can be each day.”

That’s something he’s learned the right way, from being a rising youth national team prospect to a star at the University of Maryland, and then a goalkeeper coming home to reclaim his star in MLS following a tough stint at Freiburg in Germany.

So, yeah, he feels ready for whatever is next.

“Germany definitely gave me a little teaser of what Europe is like and how the whole process goes and what soccer is like over there,” said Steffen, who is reported to have passed his Manchester City medical and signed a contract with the Premier League champions.

“I definitely use it to prepare for different situations when they are thrown at me and I’ll continue to do that.”

Steffen saves a Philippe Coutinho chance (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

For everything new that may be coming his way, Steffen is going to have plenty of the familiar when he’s called into USMNT camp in January. The new U.S. boss is his longtime Crew coach Gregg Berhalter, and Steffen could hardly be happier with U.S. Soccer’s decision.

“He’s the guy in charge,” Steffen said. “He knows Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E. He’s ready for whatever comes his way. He’s demanding and the right man for the job.”

If anything, there may be more stability in Steffen’s professional life despite a probable move abroad. He knows his national team coach, and there’s neither a chance the USMNT is moving nor a likelihood that any European club owner will threaten to move his team 1200 miles.

“It’s impossible not to think about and not to see the Tweets and the comments on Instagram, and hear about it when you’re out just talking to locals,” Steffen said. “It’s been a crazy year and a half in Columbus but we were lucky enough to have Gregg and a great coaching staff that kept us focused on the big picture and that was football, soccer. The fans were great and we wanted to play for them and not just ourselves. We had extra motivation to bring him wins and bring home playoff games.”

Steffen kept 10 clean sheets in 29 appearances for Columbus this season, then helping the Crew beat DC United in penalties before falling to the Red Bulls over two legs.

The season allowed him to take home the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award over several other outstanding players — Steffen names Alex Bono and Bill Hamid as his top backstops in MLS — and help some aspiring pros pay for college via Allstate’s $20,000 in scholarships.

“That goes such a long a way,” Steffen said. “I wasn’t aware of this community award that I could give out, and it’s a very humbling feeling because I was once in their shoes.”

Report: Borussia Dortmund enters race to sign Hudson-Odoi

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In what could look like a nightmare to Premier League sides, Borussia Dortmund could potentially play next season with two of England’s top young wingers.

[READ: Pogba “happy” at Man United]

After multiple failed attempts to sign Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on a transfer last summer and in the January transfer window, Bayern Munich now has competition for Hudson-Odoi from Dortmund, according to a report in the Telegraph. With Christian Pulisic heading the opposite direction to Chelsea this summer, Hudson-Odoi could look at Dortmund and feel that his chances for first team minutes are better than at Stamford Bridge.

The 18-year-old, who has been called-up to the current England squad, is yet to start a Premier League match this season. Of course, Hudson-Odoi is behind the likes of Eden Hazard and Willian, who would start ahead of most players. But surely Hudson-Odoi will see how his England teammate Jadon Sancho has made 35 appearances, including starts in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.

Sancho has also been subject to huge transfer speculation, especially from Manchester United, which could look to make a big splash this summer under new (or current) management. If he leaves on a $100 million-plus deal, Hudson-Odoi could be Sancho’s replacement as well.

Ultimately, should Hudson-Odoi leave the Premier League, it’s a lost opportunity for both Chelsea and the league to not only develop young players but provide them with playing time, assuming they’re deserving of it from practice.

Watch: A-League referee mic’d up during match

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Soccer around the globe is pretty transparent. We can see with our own eyes goals, fouls and red cards, as well as frame-by-frame slo-mo replays again and again. But the one aspect most people never get to see is about the referee. We never hear what the referee is saying to players, what’s in their mind as they’re consulting with the video assistant referee, or why they decided to make a certain decision. Until now.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

In his final A-League match before moving to England to be in the League Championship pool of referees, Jarred Gillett agreed to be mic’d up by local broadcasters so that fans could hear the game through his senses. The result is an incredible display of communication, knowledge, confidence and refereeing expertise that gives the viewers a new-found respect for referees.

It may not be great in every circumstance, but getting to hear what referees are saying to players or coaches could certainly help endear them to fans and the media, instead of the standard bashing treatment most referees are afforded.

Watch the video below.

Beasley to miss 4-6 weeks with knee injury

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One of Major League Soccer’s elder statesman could have used this injury as a sign it’s time to hang up the boots. Instead, it will just be a brief spell on the sidelines.

DaMarcus Beasley posted a post-operation photo after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, according to the Houston Dynamo. Beasley said “I’ll be back in a flash” in his Instagram post after the surgery. The Dynamo did not specify when Beasley suffered this injury, but the 36-year-old has not played for the club in its first three league matches this season.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

If Beasley returns within the next four to six weeks, it would put his return around the middle to end of April. The Dynamo have a pair of home games at the end of April into May, against the Columbus Crew and FC Dallas, which may be a good time to bring Beasley back.

Sane, Low play down injury fears after horror tackle for Germany

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Leroy Sane suffered a tackle so graphic on video that in most cases would have ended up with a broken leg. Thankfully, Sane says he’s just fine.

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Late in Germany’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday evening, Serbia’s Milan Pavkov went over the ball and hit Sane’s leg directly with the studs of his cleats. Pavkov was shown a straight red card and Sane limped off the pitch. However, after the match, Sane assured fans that he’s doing all right.

“The foul looked worse than it was, everything is fine with my ankle,” Sane said after the match. “I’m very happy, we had a few good moves. We had good phases where the final pass was lacking, but I think that will come with time. Everyone could see that we got better and better.”

With the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead and the announcement last month that Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller would no longer be with the national team, Joachim Low has started pushing a youth movement in the German National Team. Timo Werner started up top with Sane, 19-year-old Kai Havertz, and 22-year-old Julian Brandt in the three attacking midfield positions.

“It was a vicious foul,” Low said after the match, via Sky Sports. “Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.”

The news about Sane is a huge boost to Manchester City, which is still in the run for the quadruple in England and Europe. Sane will certainly play a big role with Pep Guardiola‘s side down the stretch.