New England goalkeeper Matt Turner has had a 2021 to remember. He picked up the Supporters’ Shield with the Revolution for the first time, was MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and earned other honors with the USMNT such as the Gold Cup, Nations League and winning CONCACAF Gold Cup Golden Glove Award.
Since playing between the sticks for the national team in their first game of 2021, a February 1 friendly against Trinidad and Tobago in Orlando where he saved a penalty and kept a clean sheet, the New Jersey native has been close to flawless in his 12 caps this year.
So the obvious question for a player at the peak of his career would be about making the big move overseas to test himself in the land where the beautiful game was born – Europe. Although 27 years old, he is probably close to entering his prime years as far as goalkeepers are considered.
“I always want to be able to challenge myself at the highest level that I possibly can,” the Fairfield University alumni admitted to the press after his remarkable seventh shut-out of 2021, against Bosnia & Herzegovina. “Right now it’s not so easy given Covid and the way the markets have been trending the past few seasons. It’s been tough for goalkeepers to get moves.”
“I understand, I’m 27 and it’s something that I really want to do,” he continued. “[It’s] something that I really want to accomplish, [but] at the same time, going into a World Cup year, you have to play smart.”
With his ultimate goal being not only to keep his place on the US roster, but also to be ready to take over the #1 position should he be called upon, Turner knows that he has to be careful to avoid what could be a momentum-destroying move.
“Going overseas and getting into a situation where maybe I’m not playing or maybe I don’t adapt well to being in a foreign country,” he pondered, “before a World Cup it might be challenging.”
As good as he is keeping balls from flying into the back of his net, and as good as he can still become if put into a more challenging environment forcing him to grow other parts of his game, moving from one team to another, especially a team where he has already established himself as the #1, to face an unknown situation might not be the smartest move at this stage.
Even as the best goalkeeper in MLS, he recognizes that he can still learn and grow given more time in his present situation.
“There are a lot of things I can take from here [the national team] and apply with the Revolution for the rest of 2022, and then going into a World Cup. After the World Cup we can revisit [this].”
Turner’s next battle in the national team uniform, other than helping the USA compete in Qatar next year, is to keep up the pressure on Gregg Berhalter and to his compatriot Zack Steffen that he should be the man keeping balls out of the back of the red, white and blue nets.