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Arsenal pre-season: USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner on a mission to earn first-team minutes ahead of 2022 World Cup

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BALTIMOREArsenal launch their United States tour with a date against Everton Sunday is a special time for the newly acquired American keeper Matt Turner. After leaving New England Revolution to move to Arsenal and make his debut for the club in a pre-season friendly against Nuremberg, the United International is back in the United States as the team kicks into high gear.

Turner is looking to fit in and impress the coaches enough to earn first-team minutes and give Gregg Berhalter a difficult decision to make for his World Cup No. 1 goalkeeper in Qatar.

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But while he hasn’t been gone long, things certainly look different this time around. Turner, a lifelong Arsenal fan long before joining the club, knows what these tours mean for American fans as he discussed his pre-season plans, staying tuned and more with CBS Sports.

“Being back in the States as an Arsenal player is special for me because when I was just a fan I would have loved to have access to the players. I would have loved to come and see them play, especially on the East Coast. .” said Turner. “So to be on the East Coast, close enough to New Jersey where I grew up and be tangible to the fans, I’m really, really excited to start creating those relationships. Just to be tangible to those people and show the young people players that the way is possible.”

Looking around the team hotel in Baltimore, the feeling was mutual as Mohamed Elneny hung out to sign autographs for fans after training, Arsenal supporters gathered at a local pub and you could smell excitement in the air as the Premier League rolled through town.

This is the kind of relationship Turner is talking about. It’s clear that while they mean something to fans, players also take notice and like to tune in when they can. It’s a mutual exchange that helps both parties develop the sport in America. Turner’s journey began as an undrafted free agent from the University of Fairfield in 2016. After signing a preseason tryout with the New England Revolution and impressing in the USL with the Richmond Kickers, Turner eventually got his his chance with the first team in 2018 and the rest is history.

Major League Soccer is one of the toughest travel leagues in the world, with seven-hour flights from Boston to Vancouver being commonplace. Although he has some travel experience, Turner is in the middle of his first European pre-season with Arsenal and things are a bit different.

“In England, the overall structure of pre-season is very different to that in the United States. There is a bit more travel with the tours but also the double sessions and the intensity of the sessions. The length of time we we’re on the court is very different from what I was used to in New England. It’s just important to keep my body at 100 per cent and keep up with the speed of things,” Turner said.

Already having a game under his belt for Arsenal in Germany, Turner is getting used to the way Arsenal want their keepers to play and that will only get better with more time at the club. Playing the ball from the back is an area of ​​interest, which fits well with what Berhalter asks of him for international duty, but not something he was tasked with in New England. More playing time will only give Turner a chance to improve and revise his game on a daily basis.

“There are a lot of games at the start of the year, so my goal is to have as good a pre-season as possible and show the coaching staff that they can trust me and put me in games. competitive,” Turner said. “I think there are around six Europa League games, and a few cup games as well at the start of the season. If I can gain the confidence of the coaching staff, then I could see myself having some good playing time. before the World Cup.

With both Zack Steffen and Ethan Horvath on loan at Championship clubs in search of consistent minutes, the pressure is on Turner to succeed in the top flight. He’ll have plenty of chances if he can earn the No.2 spot for Arsenal and play in the Europa League – where all of Turner’s games can be shown on Paramount+.

Defender Rob holding was a huge help to Turner in the process of settling in, driving Turner to and from training in London. Turner has also partnered with Aaron Ramsdale, Kieran Tierney and Ben White when moving abroad. Turner summed it up nicely: “The only things that worried me a bit were the normal things, like even in high school when you change schools, everything is normal.”

Bonding with his teammates has made it easier for Turner to get up to speed as he feels comfortable at Arsenal. Add in the comfort level of being back in the States and it’s one of the nice things about preseason. Xhaka Granite also spoke about the difference a normal pre-season has made with players getting to know each other and acclimating to the club and it shows in Turner’s transition.

Turner is well positioned to impress and with enough hard work, who knows if he will ever find himself as the first-choice keeper. He’s already climbed the ranks once before, so it’s not entirely out of the question or surprising to see him succeed again.

How to watch Arsenal’s US pre-season opener

Club friendly match: Arsenal v Everton
Date:
Saturday July 16 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: M&T Bank Stadium – Baltimore, Maryland
TV: None | Direct: Arsenal app

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