The United States Men’s National Team is preparing for their final tune-up match ahead of the World Cup and Gregg Berhalter’s latest comments are quite concerning.
US Soccer writer Meg Swanick asked the USMNT manager about how Matt Turner performed in the 2-0 loss to Japan. The goalkeeper put in a Man of The Match performance but Berhalter said after the match that he performed “fine.” That judgment hadn’t changed after Berhalter watched the game over.
Matt Turner essentially the only player that performed well against Japan. Post-match, Berhalter said he looked "fine"— Meg Swanick (@Meg_Swanick) September 26, 2022
I asked Gregg in a media round table today if that was still his assessment. He re-affirmed the tepid review
I think Steffen is Gregg's starter, & one of the 5 https://t.co/B5IBBWrGn0
This comment is extremely concerning because over the last year Turner has proven he is better on both the national team and club level. The fact that Berhalter considers Steffen the starter shows that he is clearly not the right man to lead the USMNT.
Turner has made 19 appearances for the USMNT and has 14 wins and 13 shutouts. His shot-stopping ability has been superb at the international level and he has made some insane saves (both in-game and penalty kick) during that time. During the 2021 MLS season, Turner was also a MLS All-Star, member of the MLS Best XI, and won Goalkeeper of the Year with the New England Revolution.
While not receiving the same amount of playing time after officially being transferred to Arsenal, Turner has still been able to improve on the field. Since joining Arsenal, Turner’s goalkeeper coach said that the American keeper has dramatically improved.
On the other hand, Zack Steffen has taken a step back. The goalkeeper has been moved from Manchester City to Middlesbrough on loan. Due to a knee injury, Steffen has only made six appearances and allowed nine goals while recording one clean sheet.
While Steffen has returned to training, his starting spot isn’t exactly locked down. Boro manager Chris Wilder’s said that Steffen will need to earn the playing time after going down with an injury.
“He [Zack] is incredibly highly rated at one of the best football clubs in Europe,” Wilder said via SBI. “They don’t just give our four-year contracts, so he is highly rated there and it was a big signing for us to get Zack here. He unfortunately tweaked his knee and Robbo [Roberts] has come in and done well. It’s a group that is a lot stronger than what it was before the season.”
After not playing the following Tuesday, Steffen got the start in what was an uneventful game against Rotherham United. The American keeper didn’t need to make a single save but completed 20 of his 26 passes.
Turner in comparison made his first start for Arsenal in the Europa League and recorded a 2-1 win over FC Zurich. The former Revs keeper made two saves while completing 21 of his 30 passes.
With Steffen not called into national team duty due to his injury, Turner was the clear choice for a starter and made six saves against Japan while completing 34 of 43 passes.
Whether it be on the national team or club level, Turner is beating out Steffen. The 28-year-old is a better shot-stopper and has improved drastically with the ball at his feet.
Steffen has been Berhalter’s favorite ever since he was with the Columbus Crew. It’s not abnormal for coaches to have players they trust, but if Berhalter goes with Steffen over Turner when the USMNT faces off against Wales to kick off the 2022 World Cup, he shouldn’t be the coach once the United States is eliminated.
Blind favoritism shouldn’t determine who makes the starting XI, performance and form should.