Back in August, waves began to ripple at the news of the next big soccer star out of the United States of America, who was the talented starting goalkeeper for the U.S. men’s soccer national team.
The starting goalkeeper for this team was none other than Matthew Turner ‘17 – who represented the Stags at one of the highest levels of soccer in the world – and was able to lead his team to a Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football Gold Cup championship win in a 1-0 shutout against Mexico.
Associate head coach Javier Decima saw potential in a young Matt Turner, who extended to him a spot on the Division I soccer team at Fairfield. “I spent two years on the bench, and started two years,” Turner said. “Six years later, it’s pretty crazy how quickly it has all gone by.”
The New Jersey native devotes his come-up to the coaching staff of Fairfield University’s men’s soccer program, and is thankful that they were able to give the younger version of himself a chance. Now, after departing from Fairfield in 2017, he is currently in his sixth season with the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer, adding some time in goal for the United States men’s national team as well.
Turner’s time at Fairfield not only helped to elevate his game, but was also able to help him grow familiar with new cultures and appreciate different backgrounds. “The best thing about it was that I got to be at school with guys that had played in England and played overseas in different places,” Turner commented.
On the soccer field, however, Turner was able to turn around his game even further. “He [Javier Decima] challenged me a lot to learn things on my own to be self aware about my flaws and strengths and weaknesses and all that,” Turner said.
In his first taste of international tournament play, the former Stag worked with his fellow MLS players to achieve success. Turner saw it beneficial that most of his United States Men’s National Team teammates had MLS backgrounds, which helped create relationships among the squad through attending camps together and competing against each other in MLS games.
In addition to Fairfield soccer and the MLS, Turner has been highly involved in CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup qualifying events, both of which give him and his teammates the chance to represent their country on the global scale. Turner acknowledged that the pressure to do better and better each tournament is stressful, but takes the unique experience as it comes and turns it into good energy.
There is a lot of pressure that is involved with the goalkeeper’s position; especially at the global soccer level. The stress of performing well for one’s country is immense. As any goalkeeper would, Turner practices some unique mindfulness techniques that keep him in the right headspace before big games. Listening to the same playlist of songs and taking pregame naps are just two of the ways the Revolution starting keeper stays in the zone.
As a professional athlete, it is difficult to take a step back and let things settle in; going game-by-game and even minute-by-minute is good for keeping your head in the game. “During the Gold Cup, I was just taking things one game at a time,” Turner mentioned.
Winning the Gold Cup at the age of 27, Turner is still hungry for more. “I still feel like I have so much to offer and so much left to do and so many goals,” Turner said. “Winning the Gold Cup was the first thing I’ve ever won in my life…but it was a big, big special moment for me and this whole year has been truly just spectacular, from the Gold Cup to the All Star Game and how I’ve played with the national team…” Turner stated.
As the 2021 MLS All-Star Game MVP, Turner confirmed his status as one of the best in the entire league. In this year alone, the New England Revolution have been at the top of the Eastern Conference in the MLS with 20 wins on the season thus far: nine more than the next best team.
“I mean, we’ve just been smashing it and it’s been so much fun to be a part of that,” Turner mentioned about his current season with the Revolution. “It’s just a really good vibe.”
Since July, Turner has been bouncing from game to game every two or three days. To him, it is a grind, but according to Turner himself, “busy is good in soccer.” His coaches, teammates, friends and family are all there to support him when he needs it, which Turner said helps him through the bustling nature of playing on a professional team.
For the future, there are a few different things on Turner’s plate. First is the MLS Cup playoffs, which will kick off in late November. The most important topic on the docket, however, is the World Cup qualifying games.
Turner says that he is no longer a “big picture guy” anymore, meaning that he would rather not focus on the far future so that he doesn’t lose sight of the present. This means that he is locked in on the World Cup, which will have qualifying rounds through next year and will officially begin in Qatar in November 2022.
Matt Turner Night was celebrated at the Fairfield University men’s soccer game against Niagara University at Lessing Field on Oct. 2. The soccer team was able to take home the win with Turner in attendance, topping Niagara by a final score of 2-1.
Matt Turner has been one of the most prominent figures to come out of Fairfield University in the professional sports world, and with his successes in the global sphere of soccer, he has ultimately made the Fairfield community extremely proud.
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