HARRISON, N.J. – Tommy McNamara said what we were all thinking after Matt Turner put together another jaw-dropping performance in Saturday night’s 3-2 win over New York City FC.
“He’s incredible. He’s incredible,” McNamara said of the New England Revolution’s 26-year-old shot stopper. “He proves it game in, and game out. In my opinion, he’s the best goalkeeper in the league.”
Turner’s body of work on Saturday night would support that claim. He saved a first-half penalty kick from Valentín Castellanos before expertly denying the NYCFC forward again from close range just 10 minutes later, then closed out the night with perhaps his best stop, a right-handed save on a Maxi Moralez rocket that preserved the win in the 91st minute.
The penalty save set the tone, as it kept the game scoreless in just the 12th minute when NYCFC threatened to take an early lead. Turner waited out Castellanos, reading his attempt and diving low to his right to make the save. Including the regular season, playoffs, preseason, and the U.S. National Team, Turner has now saved four of the last five penalty attempts he has faced.
Playing at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. – just miles from his hometown of Park Ridge – Turner’s heroics were all the more special with the Park Ridge High School girls soccer team in the stands cheering him on.
“Matt is an excellent goalkeeper,” said head coach Bruce Arena. “The penalty kick save was awesome. A couple of the saves in the first half and second half were remarkable, as well. He gave us an outstanding effort.”
Remarkable has become the norm for Turner, who finished second in MLS Goalkeeper of the Year voting last season and was recently named to the USMNT’s 60-man preliminary roster for this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup. He made seven saves on Saturday night, a new single-game high for this season, and at least three were on shots you’d have expected to see hit the back of the net.
But not when Turner is between the sticks.
“I’m not surprised,” said center back Jon Bell, who scored his first MLS goal in the win. “To me, he was MVP of the game. Just starting off with the PK save in the first half – he just made ridiculous saves today. He was MVP for us today, really. He does it in practice. It doesn’t surprise me. In the games, you just sit there and you’re like, ‘man, that’s crazy.’ He’s MVP for the game today.”
McNamara agreed, saying that while the Revs will always strive to limit chances, occasionally they’re going to need to rely on their goalkeeper. And for years now, Turner has been Mr. Reliable.
“We really count on him and we rely on him to come up and make big saves in key moments,” McNamara said of the sixth-year goalkeeper. “That’s a big part of how we’re going to win games this year. We need to rely on all 11 players, everybody on the bench, everybody on the roster, and Matt’s a big part of it. He’s an incredible goalie and he kept us in it.”
Of course, Arena would prefer not to rely on his goalkeeper – Saturday night’s 3.3 xGA indicates that NYCFC generated several high-quality chances – but in those instances that the Revs need to be bailed out, he’s thrilled that Turner is the last line of defense.
“Unfortunately, he was on his game tonight,” Arena said. “We can’t count on that each and every game, but we’re happy to have had Matt Turner in the goal for us tonight.”