The Call Up

In World Cup year, can Matt Turner "take this leap and challenge myself" at Arsenal?

A short 15-plus months ago, New England Revolution goalkeeper Matt Turner was making his US men’s national team debut in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago.

Now, with the Qatar 2022 World Cup six months out, there’s a realistic chance the Arsenal-bound netminder could start when the USMNT’s Group B campaign begins Nov. 21 against a to-be-determined European opponent.

The 27-year-old doesn’t lose sight of that arc, and he’s determined to force manager Gregg Berhalter’s hand with his strong play, having started eight World Cup qualifiers as the Yanks placed third in the Octagonal phase.

“My long, arching goal was to be on the roster in any facet,” Turner told The Call Up’s Jillian Sakovits and Susannah Collins. “And I think that's changed and shifted a little bit to I want to be challenging to be the guy that's playing in those games. Not just happy being on the team – happy being on the team, but also wanting to be between the sticks when that opening whistle happens.

“I'm going to work hard, whatever it takes, whatever I need to prove when I'm over with Arsenal and give it my best shot like I always do. Wherever the chips fall, I'll let them fall and I'll do my role to the best of my ability, whatever it is.”

Turner’s likeliest competitor for the No. 1 role is Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, a former Columbus Crew standout. Also 27, he started five WCQs and played under Berhalter during their mutual MLS days.

They face remarkably similar obstacles toward earning first-team minutes, with Steffen the backup to Ederson at club level and Turner slated for a similar role behind Aaron Ramsdale. But Turner covets that test in London, challenging himself to succeed in the Premier League.

“I was talking to Alexi Lalas yesterday and he was like, 'At what point are you going to stop being this underdog story and own everything?' I think it's around this time,” Turner said. “I think it's around time for me to start putting on my big-boy pants, becoming a father, becoming a husband and moving over, changing leagues, changing scenery.

“I think that'll be good for me. I think that'll be good for my career, to sort of take this leap and challenge myself in a lot of ways, on the field, off the field and just help me to really continue that growth in personal and professional life.”

Before making that jump, Turner’s Revolution career has a few final chapters to write. In late June, he’ll depart the club where he went from an undrafted free agent to the 2021 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and earning a transfer that nets New England around $6 million initially and can reach just under $10 million with incentives.

Turner’s replacement seems to be rising Serbian talent Djordje Petrovic, a midseason acquisition by the reigning Supporters’ Shield winners. But filling the shoes of a player approaching all-time-great territory won’t be easy.

“Do I deserve a legacy? Am I a club legend? I don't know,” Turner reflected. “I just hope that fans remember some of the fond memories that we all shared. They remember me for the things I was doing not just on the field but also off the field.

“… I just hope people know I always gave my all to this club every time I stepped out onto the field and I always really cared about the results and I always really cared about where this club was headed. I hope that it's going to be continuing to trend in the same direction it has been since Bruce [Arena] got there.”

For more from Turner on The Call Up, check out his entire interview here.