Matt Turner’s story is an extraordinary one.
Turner didn’t play football until he was 14 years old. He only took up the game to stay in shape for his primary sports – basketball and baseball.
He only started playing in goal during his freshman year when the team keeper was injured. Turner would go viral whilst at college, knocking the ball into his own net whilst attempting to catch it.
At 21 years old, he was still only playing at a college level, still not a professional.
Despite 21 clean sheets in 39 appearances for his University, Turner was not selected in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
He would eventually join MLS side New England Revolution following a successful pre-season trial.
Then 22, he was loaned out for 2 seasons to Richmond Kickers – the American equivalent of the Championship (but closer to the level of the Vanarama National League).
He would eventually make his MLS debut a few months shy of his 24th birthday in a 2-0 defeat to Philadelphia Union. He remained New England number one for the 2018 season.
In 2019, he would find himself demoted to 3rd choice for spell, before regaining his starting spot as his side reached the play-offs for the first time in 4 years. He would finish the season being named the 5th best keeper in the MLS.
2020 would be his breakthrough season as he was named the second best keeper in the MLS behind Jamaican number one Andre Blake. Fans and teammates would both vote him as Revolutions Player of the Year.
Turner would make his US debut in 2021, aged 26. He would keep a clean sheet on a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago.
2021 would also see him named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, as well as start all 6 games for the US as they won the 2021 CONCAF Gold Cup. Turner would keep a clean sheet on the final and be named the “Best Goalkeeper” of the tournament.
Those performances led Arsenal to agree a deal to sign Turner in February 2022 in a deal that would see him join us that summer.
In June 2022, aged 28, Arsenal announced their new keeper in a deal that could rise to $10million.
His acquisition led to many questions from fans; not a surprise considering his age and background.
On paper, it looked like he could be another Runar Alex Runarsson – the Icelandic keeper came out of nowhere to become Arsenal’s number two in 2020 and couldn’t catch a cold. Possibly the worst keeper to every play for us.
Turner was replacing Bernd Leno.
The German international had close to 500 starts, with over 400 being for Leverkusen and Arsenal. It felt like a big step down from an experienced number one to an unknown from America.
Despite being US number one, Arsenal fans would still have been questioning his future prior to the World Cup kicking off. His performances out in Qatar have silenced his critics.
Turner has shown himself to be a very decent keeper at the World Cup.
He would keep two clean sheets in the group stages and would not be beaten from open play – the only goal conceded would be the Gareth Bale penalty.
Despite losing 3-1 to the Dutch in the Round of 16, Turner would pull off a string of fantastic saves and look like a keeper that was not out of place on the world stage.
Turner is probably the level below what Arsenal would need as a number one. But he would start for half of the sides in the Premier League. And that is what a top side needs as a number two.
If Arsenal fans were unsure of him before the World Cup, those fears must now be set aside.
Turner playing should not fill fans with the dread of Runarsson MK II. He is a decent keeper who has shown he will be able to do a job when called upon.
The American is arguably Arsenal’s biggest winner from the World Cup.
Turner is no way good enough for Number 2.
He’s like a rabbit in headlights with the ball at feet.
Clearly you did not watch America in the World Cup then? And if not Turner, who? You need someone who is good enough, but happy enough to be 2nd choice. Not many of them about.