Matt Turner seemed to be having a storybook year in 2021, but his dreams turned into nightmares on Tuesday night.
The MLS Goalkeeper of the Year was unable to stop a penalty kick as NYCFC advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Whether it be for club or country, Turner was dominant for the majority of 2021. He went 9-1-2 in 12 starts for the USA, including five shutouts in six games during the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. Turner was named the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper and earned a Best XI nod en route to the Gold Cup title.
In MLS he racked up 17 wins along with a 1.25 goals against average and 73.2 save percentage and five shutouts. Turner continued to be a brick wall in net and show that he is the best American goalkeeper on the planet.
Turner said that it was a huge year for him as a player.
“It was massive,” he said. “I mean, I took a lot of steps forward in my career, personally and professionally. I feel like a lot more of a mainstay at this club right now, which is a really nice feeling. I never would have dreamed this season to go the way that it did. But it’s still all the good times can be washed away by one bad time. That’s why I’ll use this moment and these feelings that I have right now to fuel me for the future, because obviously I could look at the body of work that I put in this season and hang my hat on it, but that’s not really the type of person I am. So, there’s a lot of room for me to improve, a lot of areas of my game I want to get better at, and I’m disappointed in myself for not being the player I know I can be in the clutch moments and in the playoff games, and that one really hurt my heart. So, I’ll look at myself in the mirror a bit, get back to work, and next season I’m going to show up ready to go and give these fans something to be proud of again.”
While having all that success might have someone else have a more positive outlook, the terrible taste of defeat won’t be leaving Turner anytime soon.
“Yeah, you have to let these things sink in a little bit,” said the goalkeeper. “It’s been a long year, for myself especially, just traveling back and forth between club and country and playing more games in a calendar year than I ever had my entire life. So yeah, it’s not like just forget about everything, I think you really need to remember these feelings and these emotions and use that as fuel. So, when you can finally come to terms with all this, how can you use it to better your performance in the future? How can you use it to fuel you and keep your focus levels where they need to be? Because we have a quick offseason and we’re right back into it. We’re going to play in [Concacaf Champions League], which will be great for us and it’ll be a lot of our guys on our teams first experiences playing in Central America, and so it’s going to be exciting times for the future this club. But for now, we need to let all these emotions sink in and allow them to sort of drive us for the future.”
Turner won’t have too much time to lament the loss as the MLS season begins at the end of February.