If Matt Turner were to select the best year of his career to date, he would likely settle on 2021. Back then, the United States international was very much at the peak of his power. He was named MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, was picked out as the MVP in the All-Star game and collected the Golden Glove while savouring CONCACAF Nations League glory with his country.
It is, unfortunately, easy to take a tumble from such heights.
Turner could be at his lowest ebb in 2024, with his transfer to Nottingham Forest not playing out as anybody had hoped. He jumped ship at Arsenal and headed for the City Ground amid the promise of regular first-team football.
It was always going to be a case of sink or swim by the River Trent, with Premier League odds from Paddy Power that focus on relegation seeing Forest stuck at 7/4 to take a tumble.
Inconsistency has failed to earn favour amongst those delivering Premier League tips, with the Reds continuing to glance nervously over collective shoulders.
With more forays into the transfer market being made, the plan had been to kick on towards mid-table this season. Turner, it has to be said, has contributed to Forest treading water.
Faults in his game have been exposed far too often – particularly in the kicking department – and questions continue to be asked about his value to the cause. He was dropped early in the 2023-24 campaign by former Reds boss Steve Cooper, only to earn a reprieve when his rival for the No.1 spot fared no better.
A second chance hasn’t been taken, and that could lead to an extended spell out of favour.
Turner’s timing couldn’t be worse, as 2024 is shaping up to be a big year for the United States. They have another shot at continental glory at the CONCACAF Nations League finals, and a Copa America tournament on home soil to look forward to. Having been first-choice for some time, Turner would have hoped to figure prominently in plans for both of the aforementioned events.
If he loses his place at club level indefinitely, then a starting berth with the USMNT could head in the same direction. There’s an easy case to be argued for Turner needing to hit the reset button. He, however, continues to back himself and recently said: “You know, there are ups and downs being a goalkeeper. I always seem to battle back. You never want to make mistakes – but if you are going to make them – you want to respond in the right way.”
Times were happier, though, back in 2021 when Turner was turning out in his own backyard. He was a star at the New England Revolution and in Boston – as the show ‘Cheers’ once pointed out – everybody knows your name there. They’re not as quick to point fingers of blame either.
Nobody can criticise Turner for wanting to try his luck in Europe – especially when the Premier League comes calling – but a return to the comforting surroundings of MLS may allow him to rediscover an individual spark that is in danger of fizzling out.