It's been quite the summer for the US men's national team.
A squad filled mostly with European-based players lifted the inaugural Nations League trophy at the beginning of June, beating Mexico 3-2 after extratime in an instant-classic final. Two months later, a squad filled mostly with MLS-based players lifted the Gold Cup, beating Mexico 1-0 after extratime in an intense final that was played before an overwhelming El Tri crowd last Sunday. Mexico had seven players start both finals, the United States just one.
With core players like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna, Zack Steffen and Tyler Adams on the Nations League squad, a narrative formed that the Nations League squad was the USMNT's "A" team while the Gold Cup roster was the "B" team.
Gold Cup hero Matt Turner doesn't quite see it that way.
“Maybe people had reservations about the squad playing at the Gold Cup, but a lot of guys made their case this summer," the New England Revolution goalkeeper told media on Tuesday. "The biggest message is that it’s one player pool. It’s not two different groups, it’s not an A and a B (team).”
Turner conceded just one goal in the USMNT's march to the trophy and won the tournament's Best Goalkeeper Award. Revolution head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena was one of many who thought Turner should have picked up the tournament's Best Player Award as well, though that went to Mexico midfielder Hector Herrera.
The 27-year-old also wore the captain's armband during extratime of the final.
D.C. United winger Paul Arriola began the game as captain, then the armband moved to LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget when he subbed off. After Lletget was taken out, Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta was made captain. But as the 11 returning to the field huddled before kickoff of extratime, Acosta came over to Turner and gave him the armband.
"We’re going to need you to step up here," Turner recalled Acosta saying. "And you deserve this.”
The New Jersey native later added: “To wear the armband for my country, in a final against Mexico – I mean, are you kidding me?! That’s just unbelievable.”
Turner wasn't the only Revolution star to excel at the Gold Cup. Canada winger Tajon Buchanan earned the tournament's Young Player Award, enjoying a breakthrough as Les Rouges fell in stoppage time of their semifinal against Mexico without regulars Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Cyle Larin.
In that trio's absence, Buchanan stepped up as Canada's most dangerous attacking threat, scoring their lone goal in a 2-1 heartbreaking loss to El Tri.
“Those big games are what players want to be in," Buchanan said. "To be in the quarterfinals against Costa Rica, semifinals against Mexico, it’s where I believe big players show up. I wanted to help the team, play my game and I was happy to show my quality on a big stage.”
Buchanan, who's the subject of widespread transfer interest from Europe, including clubs like RC Lens, Sporting CP and many more, reiterated his desire to play in Europe in the future. New England have rejected bids for his services and are insistent upon keeping him until at least the winter.
“It’s a huge goal of mine, hopefully one day I can play overseas," Buchanan said. "But right now, I'm focused on right now."
The Revolution are intent on keeping together their roster, an understandable approach since they sit atop the Supporters' Shield standings after 17 matches played. They've won four matches in row, all of which came without Turner and Buchanan. That duo's now back from international duty before the Revs host Nashville SC on Wednesday night in a battle of top-three teams in the Eastern Conference (7 pm ET | MLS Live on ESPN+).
While New England looked into the possibility of making another addition, Arena admitted he wouldn't expect any signings ahead of the close of the Secondary Transfer Window on Thursday.
"Anything’s possible, but I wouldn’t bet on it," Arena said.