Matt Turner's job is to make split-second decisions in front of the New England Revolution net, be it a game-changing save like his 91st-minute denial of Ola Kamara’s surefire equalizer for D.C. United Tuesday night, or the sublime distribution on display with a pin-point ball to Adam Buksa in the Revs’ 2-1 victory at Audi Field.
Off the field, a decision the 26-year-old made long before he became New England’s regular No. 1 goalkeeper was far more deliberate, and might loom largest in his future.
Turner, who has been on the verge of his first appearance for the US men’s national team after being called up to a few of Gregg Berhalter’s camps, has obtained a Lithuanian passport, which would greatly improve his chances of obtaining a work permit in Europe.
In his first comments about the subject since Charlie Davies broke the news on ExtraTime, Turner said he started the process after not being invited to the MLS Combine or being selected in the MLS SuperDraft before signing as a free agent with the Revs just before the start of the 2016 season.
Now with European interest reportedly emerging, that keep-your-options-open call to kick off a professional career could be what helps him land a big-ticket move to take that career to the next level.
“I went through some heritage and was able to — it was a three or four-year process — achieve that,” Turner said after the Revs extended their unbeaten streak to six regular season games. “It’s looking like pretty good timing.”
Davies also reported he wouldn’t be surprised if Turner makes a January move overseas. Though it’s clear Turner has those aspirations, he says he's all-in with the Revs, a club he signed a multi-year extension with last August.
“My heart is here in New England right now and I’m just going to focus on going out every day in training and in games and doing the best I can for this club and the fans,” Turner said. “Because [the fans] deserve that.”
The win over D.C. was the latest example of why Turner is so highly regarded. Is he raising his level because of the European interest?
“I would hope he’s upping his game and playing well just because of the soccer player that he is, the competitor he is and he wants to do as well as he can,” said Revs assistant coach Richie Williams, filling in for the suspended Bruce Arena. “If that in the future takes him to Europe, that’s great, but I believe he’s focused every day in training and in every game to play well here in MLS, to play well for the New England Revs.”