Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen won’t be able to fly back to his native Pennsylvania to celebrate Thanksgiving next month.
So instead, the three American soccer players are planning to celebrate the holiday together in notoriously rainy Manchester.
“I actually met Sam the other day for the first time but we’ve been in contact ever since she came over,” Steffen said Tuesday from Wales, where the U.S. men are preparing for Thursday’s friendly match against the hosts. “She’s awesome.”
Steffen signed with City in 2019 but spent last season on loan to then German Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf before returning to England over the summer. Mewis signed with the club In August after leaving the North Carolina Courage. Lavelle followed a couple of weeks later.
Steffen and Mewis met over coffee last week and hit it off immediately. “I haven’t met Rose – she ditched on us,” Steffen joked.
If another opportunity to meet Lavelle doesn’t present itself before then, the introduction could come on Turkey Day, with Steffen and Mewis already making plans to get together in Manchester.
“We’re thinking about doing a little American Thanksgiving when she gets back from [USWNT] camp, so that’ll be nice, to get to know her husband. And she’s got a cute dog,” Steffen said.
“It was really nice to meet Sam,” he added. “She’s just a great personality, and I’m really looking forward to connecting with her again soon. Steffen said that he and Mewis shared their experiences with the club and in the city so far.
Three months into his career with one of the sport’s top squads, the 25-year-old former Columbus Crew goalkeeper also detailed some of of those experiences on Tuesday.
“The talent that they have at the club, to be in training every day, it’s making me better,” said Steffen, who has made two appearances, both wins, for City in the English League Cup this season while serving as Brazilian Ederson’s understudy in the Premier League. “It’s pushing me in ways that I definitely wasn’t pushed in the past in different levels of my career.”
That’s not to say it’s been easy. Starting a new job is never is. And it’s been even more challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We didn’t have preseason, we didn’t have those five or six weeks where we had two-a-days and games and the extra meetings and that extra time to get to know them more and what they’re really like off the field,” Steffen said of his new coaches and teammates. “With COVID, it’s tough. We don’t have team dinners, we don’t have team events really.”
Still, he’s enjoying working under legendary manager Pep Guardiola. “It’s awesome to be on the inside and really see how he works day today,” Steffen said of the Spaniard. “I feel like he has a good balance of being focused and intense, but with that he brings humor and he brings his genuineness and kindness.”
Off the field, City is the first-class organization one would expect when it comes to how it treats its athletes. “They do a really good job of making sure we feel at home, the new players, making sure we feel settled,” Steffen said.
Enjoying Thanksgiving with Lavelle and Mewis can only help.
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