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Zack Steffen signs pro contract with SC Freiburg of Bundesliga

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Union Academy alumnus Zack Steffen has decided to forgo his final two seasons at Maryland to join German club SC Freiburg.

Zack Steffen in the 2013 College Cup at PPL Park
Zack Steffen in the 2013 College Cup at PPL Park
By Matt Ralph

University of Maryland sophomore goalkeeper and Philadelphia Union Academy alumnus Zack Steffen has signed with Bundesliga club SC Freiburg.

Maryland Athletics announced the signing on Friday, confirming reports earlier in the week that the Downingtown, PA native would forgo his final two seasons in College Park, MD to sign a professional contract.

Steffen, 19, spent two seasons with the Terps, playing every minute of 48 games and recording seventeen clean sheets and a 1.00 goals against average while leading Maryland to two conference tournament titles and two regular season titles. He was named Defensive MVP at the College Cup at PPL Park in Chester last December and received top defensive honors in this year's Big Ten tournament, but lost out to Northwestern senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller for the All-Big Ten honor. Maryland lost to Notre Dame in the College Cup final last year and were knocked out of the tournament in the second round this year by College Cup team and in-state rival UMBC.

"My time at Maryland has been nothing short of spectacular," Steffen said in a statement on the Maryland men's soccer team site. "I want to thank my coaches and my teammates for an amazing two years in College Park. While at Maryland, I’ve had a chance to develop both on the field and off and I am excited to take the next step in my soccer career. I’d also like to thank the fans – the best in all of college soccer – for their incredible support."

Prior to playing at Maryland, Steffen played for local club FC Delco and for a Union Academy team still in its infancy. He has been a regular call-up to the United States Under-20 national team and was on the team that traveled to Turkey for the Under-20 World Cup in 2013.

He joins Maryland alums Robbie Rogers, Taylor Twellman and Philip Sayler to head overseas after playing in College Park.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Zack and we could not be more proud of him," head coach Sasho Cirovski said in a statement. "Zack is going to have a long and prosperous soccer career and we feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to help Zack in his growth both as a player and as a person."

The Union's depth at the goalkeeper position and Steffen's rising stock in international soccer made signing a Homegrown Player contract with the Union a highly unlikely scenario, but his deal with Freiburg where he will join 21-year-old American midfielder/defender Caleb Stanko closes that chapter for now.

Freiburg finished 14th in the German top division last year and is currently in the relegation zone at 16th. Their starting goalkeeper is 24-year-old Swiss international Roman Bürki.