Matt Turner has risen among the ranks of United States Men’s National Team goalkeepers in a short period of time.
With the World Cup rapidly approaching, Turner has to be wondering where he stands with Gregg Berhalter. After amassing 13 starts with the USMNT in 2021 (the most by a USMNT goalkeeper in their debut year), he seems to have fallen out of favor with the head coach.
Turner started five World Cup Qualifying matches before getting benched in favor of Zack Steffen. The Manchester City backup goalkeeper has been in net for the last three matches.
Turner met with the media on Wednesday and talked about what he has been hearing from the national team head coach.
“It’s very much that I’m in the picture,” he said. “I’m somebody that is competing for playing time, and here I am, trying my best to prove to the coaches that I can adapt to different styles of play. Over these last two camps, I think I made really good progress in areas that they wanted me to work on in order to make those decisions harder for [Gregg Berhalter] on who’s going to play in World Cup qualifying, and then going forward, who’s going to play in the tune-up friendlies and who’s going to play in the World Cup if we’re looking really far ahead. So, I like where I’m at right now. I think I’ve developed not only on the field, but also off the field sort of in a leadership role here.”
When further asked about the specifics of the areas he needed to work on, Turner stated that it all came back to his ability when the ball is at his feet.
“It’s not so much the technical ability anymore, it’s more of picking the best pass, not necessarily just the right pass, right? Like when you had those tests in college where you had four answers and it was choosing the best answer, not just the correct one,” he said. “So, choosing those best passes and the ways I can find, see, and recognize on the field how I’m going to hurt the opponent the most when manipulating the ball of my feet.”
Turner will have to balance the USMNT goalkeeper competition along with his duties as the keeper for the New England Revolution. Those duties have increased due to the club’s success in 2021 with New England playing in the CONCACAF Champions League.
The 27-year-old was asked how he handles playing for both club and country and Turner admitted that it can be challenging.
“Going from certain extreme highs to midweek MLS matchups, it was challenging at times,” he said. “But I think I learned a lot about myself and what it takes for me to be mentally prepared and physically prepared for every single game, every single practice, every time I step out onto the field. So, I think I sort of leveled the curve, you know, then those ebbs and flows down the stretch and it’s definitely something that’s on my radar on how to flat-line even more. So, coming into 2022, how do you do it? I’m still learning the perfect way, but I feel a lot better about where I’m at this year than dealing with those highs and lows last year.”
Turner will hope to be a part of the roster for upcoming qualifiers as the USMNT takes on El Salvador on January 27.