KISSIMMEE, Fla. – In the buildup to Thursday night’s Group C opener of the MLS is Back Tournament, Matt Turner said it would be an emotional match as the New England Revolution returned to action for the first time in more than four months.
Turner spoke specifically about the opening 10-15 minutes and the energy that would flow through the players in that long-awaited period, but ultimately the Revolution goalkeeper delivered his most emotional moment at the very end, making a sprawling, game-saving stop in the 96th minute.
It was one of just two saves Turner was forced to make in the entire match but it preserved a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact and three massive points for the Revolution, both in the regular-season standings and in Group C of the MLS is Back Tournament.
“That’s the challenge of a goalkeeper, just to stay focused for 90 minutes,” said Turner. “You never know when you’re going to get called upon and tonight I was up to the task. It’s not always going to be that way, but I’d like it to be.”
Turner, who had earlier made a clutch save on Maxi Urruti when the score was still 0-0, made a jaw-dropping stop on what was essentially the last kick of the game. Ballou Tabla’s long-range drive appeared destined for the back of the net, but Turner stretched to his left to push the ball around the post.
It was a stop that helped Gustavo Bou’s 56th-minute golazo stand up as the game winner, and it saved the Revs from ruing their chances as they outshot Montreal 19-7 and were unfortunate not to find the back of the net on several occasions.
“What a crime it would’ve been if we’d walked off the field with one point today,” said sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena. “I thought we had opportunities to score a number of goals. It’s nice to see that in the (96th) minute of a game, your goalkeeper’s concentration is where it needs to be and he comes up and makes a great save. That would not happen with most goalkeepers. That was an outstanding save.”
Bou’s moment of magic and Turner’s late heroics put the Revs in prime position in Group C of the MLS is Back Tournament, which will see fellow competitors D.C. United and Toronto FC square off on July 12. Just a few days later, on July 16, the Revs will battle D.C.
That gives Arena and the Revs a full week to prepare for his former club, and there will no doubt be focus on finishing their chances as they aim to lock up a spot in the competition’s knockout rounds.
“Overall, it was a pretty solid performance,” said Turner. “I think we could’ve done some tidying in the final third, but that’s sometimes the last thing that’ll come. In terms of match sharpness, we were fit. We did really well to press the ball and win it in good areas.
“Overall, the guys did a great job for 90 minutes. I know in the first half I didn’t even have to touch the ball in my hands, so everybody did a great job. We’re pleased with three points and we’ll build from here.”