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USMNT Goalkeeper Watch — Evaluating Matt Turner’s Arsenal Debut

Matt Turner achieved a lifelong dream on Friday. The boyhood Arsenal fan made his debut for the Gunners, starting in goal and playing 68 minutes in their friendly against FC Nürnberg. Debuting for an elite European side is a big deal for Turner, especially as the 2022 World Cup approaches, and USMNT fans are still without answers as to who will wear the No. 1 shirt in Qatar. How exactly did the Matt Turner Arsenal debut go, and what does it mean for the USMNT? 

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Matt Turner Arsenal Debut Was One To Forget, But Can You Actually Blame Him? 

It didn’t take long for Turner’s dream day to turn sour. The Park Ridge, New Jersey, native conceded two goals in the first half in quick succession, both of which he may want back. 

It all started in the 24th minute when Nürnberg’s Johanes Geis scored on a powerful shot from 20-yards out. 

In fairness, Geis’ shot was super, and criticizing Turner for conceding a goal off the crossbar is a bit harsh. That said, Turner was out of position and his save attempt seemed late and awkward. Arsenal fans can be a fickle bunch, and the aesthetics of this goal will not be doing him any favors with his new fanbase. 

Minutes later, Turner conceded his second. Kwadwo Duah was kept onside by the Arsenal defense, who converted after going clean through on goal. The defense did not do Turner any favors, but he again reacted late as Duah’s shot snuck under him.

From there, things settled down for Turner. The rest of the goalkeeper’s performance was unspectacular, as he managed to keep Nürnberg off the scoresheet without being forced to make any big saves until he was substituted in the 68th minute. 

It’s easy to overreact to 68 minutes in a preseason friendly. Arsenal and USMNT fans should practice caution before judging Turner here. Neither goal Turner conceded was a glaring mistake. Sure, those are saves fans would like to see Turner make against top competition, especially since shot-stopping is supposedly his primary strength. In the first game of preseason, however, he should get the benefit of the doubt. As the season gears up, he will need to improve, but fans should give him time to do so. 

Oh, and he’ll need to stop giving up goals like this one. 

USMNT Goalkeeper Watch

The race for the No. 1 shirt is still tight and will depend on who can put together an extended run of performances in the early parts of next season. 

For those hoping to see Turner start in Qatar, the issue is less about Turner's performance Friday. We have all seen what he can do for the USMNT. The issue is more that Aaron Ramsdale is the clear No. 1 goalkeeper at Arsenal. Turner will be training at a top-level, but Gregg Berhalter has previously stated that he would like to ride the hot hand in Qatar, so Turner will need to find a way to get a run of playing time if he wants the starting job. 

Facing the same issue, previous consensus starter Zack Steffen is reportedly close to a loan move to Middlesbrough, where he would be able to get extended playing time in the EFL Championship. 

Joining him in the Championship will be Ethan Horvath, who was signed on loan to Luton Town from Premier League newcomer Nottingham Forest. Coincidentally, Horvath made his Luton debut Friday as well in a closed-door friendly against Slovenian side NK Bravo. 

Let’s not forget about Sean Johnson, Gaga Slonina or even Stefan Frei, who perform consistently in MLS but are more than likely on the outside looking in. 

With Horvath and Steffen both getting consistent minutes, albeit against lesser competition, Turner supposedly riding the bench adds a new wrinkle to the goalkeeper race. It is looking like this is a decision that will come down to the wire. 

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