To have players on the books of Premier League giants Manchester City and Arsenal suggests that American goalkeeping is in a pretty good place right now. There is, however, plenty of reading to do between those last lines of defence. Zack Steffen may be tied to the reigning champions of England, while Matt Turner finds himself at Mikel Arteta’s title hopefuls for 2022-23, but neither can be considered first choice at their respective clubs.
Can Matt Turner make USMNT No.1 spot his own?
Steffen is not even part of Pep Guardiola’s plans at present, with a loan move to Championship side Middlesbrough required in order to get the minutes he craves. Said switch was made with the intention of forcing his way into an international thought process.
The USMNT are readying themselves for a first outing at FIFA’s flagship event since 2014, with World Cup football betting rating Gregg Berhalter’s side as 11/10 shots to progress out of Group B in Qatar and 4/1 to reach the quarter-finals.
They have only once progressed further than the last eight in their previous nine outings on the grandest of global stages, and that run to the semi-finals came when making their bow back in 1950. Having enjoyed a sizeable slice of beginners’ luck, the cream of an American crop has found the going a little tougher since.
Any hope they have of surging into the knockout stages this time around will rely heavily on the ability to keep the back door bolted. The USA have plenty of attacking talent at their disposal, but questions continue to be asked of whether they are solid enough in defence to contain the threat posed by elite opponents.
Finding a reliable option to fill in between the sticks will be imperative as plans are finalised for a trip to the Middle East. Plenty of contenders still have their eye on the prize of a No.1 jersey, with the likes of Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson also added to the mix – along with a couple of up-and-coming talents.
It may, however, be that Turner is given the opportunity to prove that experience at Arsenal makes him the ideal candidate to fill shot-stopping duties for his country. Game time may be limited with the Gunners, but competition across multiple fronts is ensuring that he gets the odd outing.
Mikel Arteta has been impressed by what he has seen from a man that completed a switch from the New England Revolution during the summer of 2022, saying after an eye-catching showing against Bodo/Glimt in the Europa League: “He’s improving, he’s getting better, we are demanding things that are different to what other managers have demanded him to do.”
Berhalter should not consider that to be a dig at him, with high standards demanded of everybody at Emirates Stadium. Arteta is not suggesting that others are giving Turner an easy ride, merely that Arsenal are eager to see how far they can push him.
That should stand both club and country in good stead heading forward, with it easy to argue that a World Cup carrot is Turner’s for the snatching. If he can get two gloves to that, clutch it close to his chest and avoid any handling errors, then everybody from North London to North Carolina should be happy.