Players on the U.S. Men’s National Team passed around the captain’s armband during the Gold Cup Final against Mexico. Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Kellyn Acosta wore it before it settled on the arm of Matt Turner.
The gesture was a vote of confidence for Turner and his ability.
“Right when we had our little team huddle before extra time, Kellyn came up to me and he put the armband on my arm,” Turner explained. “He sort of patted me on the back and he said, ‘we’re going to need you to step up here and you deserve this.’”
"Kellyn came up to me and put the armband on my arm and said we're going to need you to step up here, you deserve this."@headdturnerr shares the moment he received the @USMNT captain's armband from @KellynAcosta in the Gold Cup Final❤️— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 3, 2021
Turner hadn’t captained a team since he played at Fairfield College, so to receive the armband in a scoreless Gold Cup Final against Mexico was, as he said, “just unbelievable.”
Although it was only his seventh cap for the USMNT, Turner had already proven that he belonged. With the possibility of penalties looming, his teammates wanted to show that they had faith in the netminder.
It meant the world to him.
“To be able to know that I’m seen in a certain light among the players that were there,” Turner said. “Such esteemed, accomplished players to have respect for me. It’s just wild to wrap my head around. I was feeling pretty tired heading into extra time and it definitely gave me the boost to stay focused and locked in.”
Turner and the USMNT would ultimately beat Mexico 1-0 on a goal from Miles Robinson. Before hoisting the trophy, Turner was named the tournament’s best goalkeeper, receiving the Golden Glove.
Turner has now returned to the New England Revolution and is focused on maintaining the team’s lead in the Supporters’ Shield race. He hopes to continue to earn caps for the U.S. Men’s National Team and book a ticket to the 2022 World Cup.
Regardless of what happens, he’ll always remember captaining a team that beat Mexico for a Gold Cup.
“I got to enjoy the moment with my team, with a group of players and that’s the beauty of sports, right?” Turner said. “That specific group will probably never be together ever again. Maybe 10 of the 23 or 18 of the 23 but never all 23. Those are the bonds and memories that you create and that’s what makes sports so special.
“For me, I think putting a stamp and beating Mexico and being a team that’s always going to be remembered for winning the Gold Cup for the rest of time, that was probably the thing I’m most proud of.”