It was the position that created the biggest stir when Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle revealed his hypothetical US men's national team starting XI: He selected New England Revolution netminder Matt Turner over ex-Columbus Crew SC and current Manchester City 'keeper Zack Steffen.
Doyle had some explaining to do for many USMNT supporters, and he provided his detailed analysis on Monday's Extratime podcast episode.
"I’m not going to apologize," Doyle began. "I think it’s very overstated to say that Steffen was one of the best goalkeepers in the Bundesliga last year. By the numbers, he was one of the worst shot-stoppers in the entire Bundesliga. And by the numbers in MLS, he was a below-average shot-stopper except for penalties, where he’s like God-level. In the run of play he has been poor at the No. 1 job of goalkeepers which is to keep the ball out of the back of the net. His feet are excellent. I think he can manage the box a little bit better than Turner does.
"Turner's feet are still really good," Doyle continued. "His command of the box needs to improve. In terms of shot-stopping, over the course of 50 games, he is maybe the best I’ve ever seen in MLS — first 50 games he’s played. People were really upset about that analysis."
Doyle: Why Turner over Steffen for U.S.
Doyle went as far to state that Turner is "miles beyond" Steffen when it comes to their MLS shot-stopping exploits. It's no wonder that there's talk around a European transfer for Turner, who has a Lithuanian passport.
"And what’s going to happen is that Matt Turner is going to move to a Bundesliga club or maybe even an EPL club because he has an EU passport," Doyle said. "And a year from now we’re going to hear ‘He’s improved so much since moving to Europe’ and that is going to be wrong. Because he is already this good. And if you look at their numbers, limited just to MLS, Turner has been miles beyond what Steffen was able to do in MLS just in terms of keeping the ball out of the back of the net. I’m a little old-fashioned, but that’s the No. 1 thing that I care about with my goalkeepers.”
After a transfer to Manchester City in the summer of 2019, Steffen spent last European season on loan with Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf. He rejoined Pep Guardiola's team ahead of the 2020-21 season and made his first start in a 2-1 Carabobo Cup (League Cup) win against Bournemouth last week. The goal he allowed exposed one of his weaknesses, according to Doyle.
"His footwork on that goal was not great," Doyle said. "That’s the thing with Steffen and his shot-stopping: He has a really high stance and because of that he doesn’t get a good push. So he needs to have a little bit wider stance. And he needs to be a little bit better in his positioning as well. And I think if he does that, then I think we’re talking about a guy who can be one of the best goalkeepers in the world. And my hope is that Manchester City work on that because the entirety of Steffen’s shot-stopping struggles for me come from his pretty sloppy footwork."
The conversation is sure to continue, although the 26-year-old Turner has some catching up to do. He was called into USMNT camps in November 2019 and January 2020, but hasn't made a senior appearance. The 25-year-old Steffen already has 17 senior caps.