FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Within the sports world, Matt Turner’s journey has been a classic tale of rags to riches – the late bloomer whose meteoric rise has seen him evolve from undrafted, fourth-string New England Revolution goalkeeper to U.S. Men’s National Team starter in the span of just five years.
Turner’s quite remarkable story added yet another chapter on Monday afternoon as the 27-year-old shot-stopper was voted Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, claiming the award with a landslide majority of support from fellow MLS players, club executives, and the media. In doing so, Turner became the first Revolution goalkeeper to be honored as the league’s best in the club’s 26-year history.
“It means a lot. It’s definitely something that I’ve had on my radar as a goal, as a box to check if you will, for a long time,” Turner said. “I’ve never really been one to win individual awards. I think I said that in my Tweet, but I really do mean that. All throughout growing up when I was getting into soccer, I always seemed to come in second place in these types of voting things.”
If individual awards have been a rarity in the past, then 2021 has flipped the script in dramatic fashion. In addition to MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, Turner also took home the Golden Glove as top goalkeeper at this past summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup, while he was named MVP of the MLS All-Star Game after saving a pair of penalties in a shootout victory over the LIGA MX All-Stars.
But while the Golden Glove and All-Star MVP awards were quickly announced on-field postgame, the Revs were able to make the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year reveal a bit more special. Alongside his teammates while preparing for training, Turner was surprised with the news by sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena, eliciting a raucous reaction from players and staff.
“It meant a lot, especially being surrounded by guys that I’ve been working hard with for the better part of six years,” Turner said. “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.
“That was a really nice moment. 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 and I’m really happy. It’s a really good feeling to be able to say that.”
There will come a time when Turner reflects on his journey, when he’ll absorb the enormity of his accomplishments and appreciate the path he’s taken from unheralded to unstoppable. But that time isn’t now. Not with the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs looming and an Eastern Conference Semifinal meeting with New York City FC to prepare for on Tuesday, November 30 at Gillette Stadium (TICKETS).
Because when all is said and done, the trophies Turner is chasing aren’t shaped like gloves or stars. Instead, he wants to hoist another cup, and he wants to do so alongside his New England Revolution teammates as MLS Cup champions on December 11.
“It would mean everything,” Turner said of potentially capping off this magical year with a title. “If you look back on my interviews in the past, I always said I don’t really care about individual awards. As long as the team does well, it’ll take me to where I want to be, and the team did well this year, so it took me to where I want to be.
“More of the same, hopefully, in the future. MLS Cup is a huge goal of ours as an organization, as a team. Me, personally, it’s 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 Supporters’ Shield, MLS Cup, and then do what I have to do to try to help my team to get there. If that leads me to win an individual award along the way, great.”