FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Matt Turner wasn’t in Dallas when the New England Revolution opened the 2019 season there on March 2. He wasn’t in Toronto, either, when the Revs went north of the border two weeks later, and he watched from a suite when they hosted Columbus and Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium.
Turner wasn’t injured. Instead, he’d been deemed the Revolution’s third-choice goalkeeper behind Brad Knighton and Cody Cropper – a surprise considering the fact that Turner, the youngest goalkeeper on New England’s roster, had started 27 games in 2018.
It was an introspective time for the then-24-year-old, who admits it was a difficult period for him personally as he learned quickly that absolutely nothing is a given at the professional level.
“I definitely learned a lot about myself,” Turner said. “I’d say the biggest thing is take every day, every rep, very seriously, and do the right things – the small things – and things will fall into place for you.”
Eventually things did fall into place for Turner. He kept his head down, put in the work on the training ground, and finally earned his opportunity on May 8, starting his first game of the season when the Revs visited the Chicago Fire at SeatGeek Stadium.
That evening didn’t go well for Turner or the Revs, who suffered a 5-0 loss to the Fire. While the result signaled the end of Brad Friedel’s tenure in New England, it was just the beginning for Turner, who went on to start 20 of the Revolution’s final 23 games – and burst onto the national stage in the process.
Turner went 6-0-3 in his next nine starts and caught the attention of national media with a string of stellar, game-changing saves, so much so that he finished fifth in MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting despite playing just a shade more than half the season.
With those types of accolades has come U.S. National Team chatter, and while Turner said he’s gotten no indication that he’s on Gregg Berhalter’s radar, he wasn’t shy about revealing just how much he’d covet an opportunity to represent his country on the international stage.
“How can you not?” Turner said when asked if he has USMNT aspirations. “It’s something that everybody dreams about when they’re playing this game, is putting on the crest and the colors of their nation. To represent the United States at the national level would be a dream come true.”
Turner said that a call-up to the USMNT’s annual January camp “would be awesome,” but added that most of his goals as a professional revolve around team success – something he got a taste of with his first trip to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs this past season.
“I never really like talking about my personal goals because they really revolve around the team,” Turner said. “As the team does better, it’s better for me. I really just want this team to be a top contender in the Eastern Conference and around the league, and do well in the Open Cup and all those good things.”
Good things seem to be on the horizon for both the Revs and Turner, who can now look back on a rollercoaster 2019 season as a learning experience on the path to a brighter future.
“I’ll look at it as a step in the right direction for me personally, and as a whole for this team,” Turner said. “I just personally feel really hungry for next season, and I’ll take a lot of lessons I learned this season into the offseason, take my time, get back into it, and I’m really looking forward to 2020.”