Matt Turner's remarkable journey will take yet another massive step on Thursday night as the New England Revolution goalkeeper has been named the starter for the U.S. National Team's opening match of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying. Turner and the USMNT will visit El Salvador at Estadio Cuscatlan, with kickoff set for 10:05 p.m. ET and with coverage on CBS Sports Network, Universo, and Paramount+.
U.S. head coach Gregg Berhalter announced Turner as the starter during a press conference on Wednesday evening, noting an injury to Manchester City goalkeeper Zack Steffen which left Berhalter with a decision to make between Gold Cup standout Turner and Concacaf Nations League hero Ethan Horvath.
“It was a difficult choice, and it wasn't easy for us,” Berhalter said. “Ethan performed really well in Nations League and the friendly game after that, in the game against Switzerland. So he's had strong performances for us.
"We just felt at this given moment, Matt is the goalie in better form, and we went with him. I have complete confidence in him and what he can do and his ability, and the next step is going to be for him to translate it into these ultra-competitive matches and see how he can manage that."
Turner has made seven appearances for the U.S. National Team, all in 2021, going 7-0-0 to become the first goalkeeper in USMNT history to win his first seven matches. Six of those came in this summer's Gold Cup as Turner was named the tournament's Best Goalkeeper while conceding just a single goal, from the penalty spot.
Berhalter informed Turner that he'd be making his World Cup Qualifying debut on Wednesday morning, and the 27-year-old shot-stopper admitted that his immediate reaction was excitement at the opportunity.
"It's tough to sum up just in one sentence or one paragraph, even,” said Turner. “It's been quite the journey, especially 2021’s been an amazing ride for me. And so I'm just taking things as they come - try not to get too high, get too low, when things are coming and going. And just trying to continue to challenge myself to become a better goalkeeper, a better person, every single day in, day out.”
Thursday night's visit to El Salvador begins the U.S. National Team's qualifying campaign in the Octagonal, which will ultimately feature 14 matches between now and March 2022. This round of contests will also feature a home meeting with Canada (Sunday, Sept. 5) and a trip to Honduras (Wednesday, Sept. 8).
Turner's New England Revolution teammates will be in action on Friday night when they visit the Philadelphia Union. Kickoff from Subaru Park is set for 7:30 p.m. ET with coverage on TV38, myRITV, 98.5 The Sports Hub, and WBIX 1260 AM Nossa Radio.