How USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner landed at the World Cup

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RAYYAN, Qatar – Matt Turner is the starting goalkeeper for the United States in Monday’s World Cup opener, barring the unexpected, he will retain the role for Friday’s showdown against England and for the rest of the team The men’s team remains in the competition.

How is all this impossible? Let him explain.

“I made up my mind. It’s crazy – bananas even,” Turner said. “It’s something you wouldn’t even think to write about, because it would be like: ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous. That’s not true.’ It’s a pretty wild story compared to the people I share the locker room with every day and their backgrounds through the game. It’s a unicorn.”

Think about it: He didn’t start playing football until he was 16, and he never made it to the youth team. He played in a shadow college (Fairfield University) and was overlooked in the MLS system. His debut came with the lowly Richmond Kickers. He did not make his international debut until 22 months ago, at the age of 26.

“I hope it will show people one day, if they are thinking whether they should play sports or not they should think it’s time to do something whether it’s sports or in their personal life , they can still do it,” Turner said.

Turner is a youngster in no time, and his journey has taken him in the last six months from the New England Revolution to the Premier League captain of Arsenal and, for a few weeks, who leading to the World Cup.

He became the latest in a long line of U.S. goalkeepers to find a home in Europe’s top competition while climbing the national team’s depth chart, joining Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel and Tim Howard.

“I coached Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, goaltenders who played really well [in the Premier League]and Matt can grow to that level,” said coach Bruce Arena, the two-time United States captain. “Arsenal have got themselves a good goalkeeper.”

Take a look at the USMNT roster

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In the past year, the expectation is that Turner and Zack Steffen will try to start the US project. But when coach Gregg Berhalter made the announcement two weeks ago, Steffen wasn’t there.

Berhalter did not provide details, but people familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter, said Berhalter felt strongly that Turner was his No. 1 manager and Sean Johnson was filling the void. of 3.

He decided that Ethan Horvath would be best to step in for Turner at a lower level, if necessary. Horvath came on as a sub in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League final, saving a penalty, and was a sub in Nottingham Forest’s Premier League promotion win last spring.

Having been drafted into the position ahead of the World Cup, Turner made a stunning save in the Group B opener against Wales before Gareth Bale converted an 82nd-minute penalty in a 1-1 draw. He follows up with Bale’s shot, but due to his intensity and clearance, he can only manage to parry.

The Americans are likely to beat England on Friday or Iran on Tuesday to reach the round of 16.

For Turner, Monday’s start to work marks an important year. In February, as Turner prepared to start his fifth full MLS season, the exchange agreed to sell him to Arsenal for at least $6 million, effective in June.

Before joining the Gunners, he started two of the four US games, adding to a portfolio that includes eight starts in 14 World Cup matches in 2021-22. (Steffen started the other six.)

Turner hasn’t played much at Arsenal. In sports, he worked as a backup for Aaron Ramsdale, who made England’s World Cup team.

Turner started Arsenal’s first four games in the UEFA Europa League – the continent’s second-tier competition – but was injured in the last two. The Gunners won the group and went on to the round of 16 in March.

Turner scored one goal in those four games, including a 1-0 win over Bodo/Glimt, a Norwegian club just north of the Arctic Circle.

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“What I find difficult is that sometimes, as a goalkeeper, the training is more difficult than the game,” he said of the backup job. “In training, you do hundreds of exercises per session, and you fail a lot. It’s hard, mentally and physically. It can be hard to see where you’ve come from if you there is no such thing as a symbol of the game.”

US men’s team coach Gregg Berhalter has a talented young team with experience in top European competition, but not in international competition. (Video: Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

It was different in New England, where, after returning from a loan at Richmond, he was the first starter from 2018 onwards.

He said: “Week in, week out in New England, it doesn’t matter what I do in training. “I went to play and that game became my mark. So I think it’s all about how you deal with the situation you’re in. “

Although he doesn’t play regularly, Turner said he has learned a lot from the competitive environment.

Outlook: Good draw for USMNT. But sometimes, ‘good’ is not good.

He said: “If you don’t bring it in one day, you will find out very quickly. “I don’t want to be one of those guys who know.”

Turner learned something during a training session.

He said: “I gave the ball away and I showed that I was frustrated and angry. Head coach Mikel Arteta “basically read to me: ‘I don’t want to see that. I don’t like that reaction. I want to see you pick yourself up and go.’

“That really set the tone for my mindset in the club and just keep going no matter what. If you fail, it’s okay. What’s important is how you react , not about the failure itself.”

The United States national team will face Wales, Iran and favorites England in the group stage of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. (Video: Joshua Carroll/The Washington Post)

Turner has also learned to love English football culture.

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He said: “It’s very different from the game that is played in the United States. They praise you for the little things you can do. The small nuances of the game are appreciated. It’s like an interactive experience, and the emotions of the fans closely follow the emotions of the game. That’s really good. Some games are written in the US. They tell you that checking what you have to say, while things in the Premier League – and in football – can be more nutritious. “

England, who know the weight of expectations, are opening the World Cup in style

Even without a full-time job, Turner strengthened his national team position. Berhalter turned to him in September for the last two World Cup matches. In disappointing group games against Japan and Saudi Arabia, Turner was the only bright spot.

As long as Turner is fit when training camp opens, he will start against Wales.

It’s a long way from driving the sleeper cars to the championship away from Richmond five years ago.

“Looking at my story, I hope kids can see a way out,” Turner said. “A man from the New England Revolution, who two years ago, three years ago, people would not believe that he was doing business with Arsenal, starting the season at Arsenal.”

And now in the World Cup, too.

World Cup in Qatar

Live updates: The European powers play a central match on Wednesday in Qatar, where the World Cup is in progress. Follow for the latest news, updates and updates.

USMNT: In their return to the World Cup, the young Americans were held to a 1-1 draw against Wales in their Group B opener. The US national team will face a tall task on Friday against Group B favorite England, which destroyed Iran, 6-2, earlier Monday.

Qatar Conflict: Soccer players wearing the rainbow, a symbol of LGBTQ inclusivity, said they were denied entry to World Cup stadiums and faced public pressure to remove the symbol.

Group instructions: The United States men’s soccer team, led by coach Gregg Berhalter and star player Christian Pulisic, qualified for the 2022 World Cup, a boost from a disastrous and unsuccessful 2018 campaign. Here’s a look at how all the members in each group stack up.

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