When the calendar hit August, D.C. United was in the middle of a free-fall and was seeking to inject some excitement into a franchise that had already mentally started preparing for 2018. So, they started signing some players to build a young core to take the team into the opening of Audi Field next year. One of those players was Zoltan Stieber. Stieber was signed August 9th, joining the team from 1.FC Kaiserslautern of 2.Bundesliga. Stieber’s signing was a jolt to the fanbase, with fans practicing the “Z” that was made famous from the 2000 comedy “Dude, Where’s my Car?”
Stieber didn’t begin with the Black-and-Red immediately, as a visa hangup created a delay before he was allowed to suit up against Atlanta United on August 23rd. But, when he was finally available, he played. He appeared in 8 games (6 starts), playing 526 minutes and generating 13 shots (7 on target, 8 from outside the box). He provided 1 goal and 1 assist in that time. HIs goal against the New York Red Bulls on September 27th, off a free kick that deflected into the goal, was an equalizer and the first time he was able to break out the Zoltan “Z” in celebration.
His assist also came in that match against the Red Bulls, as he dribbled the ball towards the box to softly tap it to Russell Canouse just inside the box, who found Patrick Mullins for the finish.
In the prime of his career, Stieber has also become a mainstay on the 23-man roster for Hungary. Before he joined the Black-and-Red, he had 21 caps and 3 goals for Hungary, including appearing in all three Euro 2016 matches and scoring against Austria. Since moving to D.C., he has appeared 4 times for the Magyars, and Hungary has called him up for every match. Employed mainly as a winger, he featured for Hungary mainly as a substitute during the final matches of World Cup qualifying. Hungary did not make the World Cup, but it’s expected that Stieber will feature on the national team going forward.
On the wing with his left foot, Zoltan is an great passer who is excellent with short passes but loves to play the long ball. He was very good at crossing the ball into the box and had 16 key passes in 8 games. He also can be a threat on set pieces, as he’s good at crossing into the box or even taking shots with that left foot. He could improve at tackling on the defensive end, but he is able to stay in front of his man and not leave his feet to attempt tackles. His defensive philosophy is to have the opposing player give up the ball earlier than desired. Still, he was a calming presence on the wing with the ability to create scoring opportunities with his crossing and passing.
Zoltan Stieber was a member of the August wave of energy injected into D.C. United. He still needs to earn his playing time, get more active on the defensive end, and use his speed and creativity on the flanks to create more scoring chances for a team desperate for opportunities. Still, at 28 years of age, Stieber is in the prime of his career and could be the experience a younger Black-and-Red roster needs to turn it around next year. A midfield with Stieber, Harkes, Canouse, Acosta and Arriola could be a monster for years to come. He made $100,000 for the two months on the team but his contract, paid down with Targeted Allocation Money, would project to be much higher next season. Still, we ask you the question:
Do you want Zoltan Stieber back for the 2018 season?
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