BOSTON (CBS) — The Revolution will be without goalkeeper Matt Turner for roughly the next month as he looks to turn away lots of shots for the US Men’s National Team in the Concacaf Gold Cup. It’s a big blow to the Revs, as Turner has been playing at an elite level to start the 2021 season.
But it’s a gigantic honor for the 27-year-old Turner, who almost turned his back on soccer when he was a kid.READ MORE: Red Sox-Blue Jays Rained Out; Split Doubleheader Wednesday
“It’s funny, when I was younger and I was on a soccer team, the coach wouldn’t let me play goalkeeper. So I quit and played football basketball and baseball,” Turner explained to WBZ-TV’s Levan Reid. “That’s kind of how I got into it.”
That move may have shaped his soccer career. Playing goalkeeper gives him a chance to use all of the skills that he accumulated in those other sports.
“It’s kind of a combination of a lot of different sports,” Turner said of keeping goal. “You have to catch, you have to throw, you have to pass and you have to be good with the ball at your feet. It’s such a challenge.”
It’s a challenge that he is always up for — and one that he has always wanted.
“I was always that annoying kid that wanted to go against the grain; everybody wants to score but I want to keep the ball out of the net,” he added.
Turner has had a lot of help along the way. He talks openly about his trust in New England goalkeeper coach Ken Hitchcock and how he has made him a better player.
“He’s the first goalkeeper coach I’ve been able to work with who played at a high level and coached at a high level. That means he knows what it takes to get there — not just succeed there but to get there,” Turner said of Hitchcock. “When he sees something in me, it really gives me a lot of confidence.”READ MORE: Zach Wilson Not Present As Jets Open Training Camp, As Rookie QB Has Yet To Sign Contract
Hitchcock arrived from England in 2019, hired by then-Revs head coach Brad Friedel. But upon landing in the US, he learned that Friedel had been let go, replaced by Bruce Arena.
Arena chose to keep Hitchcock, and it has paid off big time for everyone involved. Hitchcock knew that he had something special in Turner almost immediately, and has pushed him to a higher level since they started working together.
“He’s been amazing. I go back to the first exercise I did with Matt, and all it was was a quick feet drill, but I saw the potential and saw that I had something to work with that was really, really good,” Hitchcock recalled. “He takes everything on board and wants to be the best that he can be.”
Turner is now on the national team for the fourth time, and will be leading the way in net for the US.
“It’s a huge honor and this one feels really good,” he said. “I feel like I’ve earned this opportunity, and will hopefully bring home some hardware.”
It’s hard for Turner to believe, but here he is, on a quest for gold.
“I never thought that this was in the realm of possibility. Maybe for Team USA baseball, but… I’ve run out of words to be honest,” said Turner. “Every time it just feels cooler and cooler and more and more special for me and my family.
“It’s a nice reminder of how far I’ve come and how hard I’ve worked,” Turner added.MORE NEWS: Devin McCourty Praises Stephon Gilmore As A Top Cornerback In The NFL
Turner and the US Men start group play Sunday night against Haiti.