Matt Turner, during his New England Revolution career, has gone from not being picked in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft to becoming a starting goalkeeper for the US men’s national team.
His feel-good story now has another résumé point following Monday’s official announcement: 2021 Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year. The 27-year-old placed behind Philadelphia’s Andre Blake last year, but this go-around it's another distinction after being named MVP at this summer’s 2021 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
Turner was nothing but smiles when reflecting on the honor, which head coach/sporting director Bruce Arena announced at Revolution training ahead of their Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs game on Nov. 30, an Eastern Conference Round One test against New York City FC (7:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes).
“They’ve seen me grow a lot as a goalkeeper and now I’m contributing to the organization whereas when I first began, I was just sort of a practice dummy, so that was a really nice moment,” Turner said. “It made me feel just happiness and made me feel like I really did accomplish something great and the fact that everyone was so proud of me and so happy for me, I think it really speaks volumes to the culture in the locker room that we have here in New England. This place is my home.”
Turner first got his shot during the 2018 campaign, under then-Revolution coach and USMNT all-time goalkeeping great Brad Friedel. He steadily grew into one of MLS’ elite shot-stoppers, giving New England a game-changer that helped fuel this year’s Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign and a new single-season points record (73).
Turner stressed he’s never been motivated by individual awards, though the honor rubber-stamps his development. He’s also the first Revolution goalkeeper to get the award, with the club previously anchored by MLS legend Matt Reis.
“I’ve never really been one to win individual awards. I think I said that in my tweet, but I really do mean that,” Turner said. “All throughout growing up when I was getting into soccer, I always seemed to come in second place in these types of voting things. So I don’t feel like this is something that gives me validity, but it certainly is a nice award and one that I’m really proud to have accomplished.”
Turner earned 43.60% of the voting block from MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players – a landslide ahead of Blake, the 2020 winner. Last year, the places were flip-flopped.
Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year - Matt Turner
It also speaks to Turner’s growth with the USMNT, posting shutouts in five of six games as they won the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. He later started the Yanks’ first five games in the Concacaf Octagonal as they chase a Qatar 2022 World Cup spot.
Turner’s entrenched in a battle for the No. 1 shirt with Manchester City backstop Zack Steffen, the league’s 2018 winner from his Columbus Crew days. Steffen started November qualifiers against Mexico and Jamaica, and he’ll hope to wrangle the spot back come January.
“Gregg [Berhalter] and I had a conversation, and we’ll leave it as personal between him and I,” Turner said of his USMNT role. “He was able to express a few things and I was able to express what I needed to express in those moments as well. I think he and I have a great relationship where we can be honest with each other and there’s areas of my game where I need to improve if I want to be a consistent starter on the national team level.
“I truly believe that there’s still a massive level of trust that the coaching staff has with me and that feels really good to have. It’s a competition between Zack and I, and Zack had a good window just here in November. We look forward to January and I’ll try to iron out some details in my game and continue to work hard and push back and try to get as good as I possibly can as a goalkeeper.”
Before then, Turner and the Revs have MLS Cup on their mind. As Shield winners, they maintain hosting priority through the Dec. 11 championship game provided they’re still in contention. They're two wins from that scenario unfolding at Gillette Stadium.
And he’d set aside any personal nod if it means bringing more silverware to Foxborough, an MLS original that’s fallen painstakingly short in years past.
“MLS Cup is a huge goal of ours as an organization, as a team,” Turner said. “Me, personally, something I definitely want to achieve and that was my goal this year, not Goalkeeper of the Year. That’s not really a goal of mine. It’s more of, you know, Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup, and then do what I have to do to try to help my team to get there and if that leads me to win an individual award along the way, great.”