Arsenal-bound Turner coming for Steffen's starting spot

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Matt Turner, by his own admission, needed to shake things up.

For several years, he's been the best goalkeeper in MLS on one of the best teams in MLS. He's been an All-Star, a Goalkeeper of the Year and a Best XI selection.

But, for whatever reason, that hasn't been enough. Despite all of those accolades, Turner is still probably the U.S. men's national team's No.2 goalkeeper.

He has about five months to change that, and his performance against Morocco was a pretty good start.

Turner is back with the USMNT, having started the 3-0 win in Ohio, while incumbent starter Zack Steffen is out of action due to a family matter.

With Steffen missing camp, Turner has been given the chance to start with what is fairly close to a first-choice USMNT as the World Cup draws nearer.

By any measure, Turner was fantastic on Wednesday night as he played behind what may just be the new first-choice duo of Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long due to Miles Robinson's injury.

He sealed his 12th clean sheet in just 17 caps, making eight saves while completing 88 percent of his passes.

Several of those saves were straight-forward and a few were impressive, but it's those passing numbers that may be most interesting, given his perceived inferiority to Steffen with the ball at his feet.

All things considered, it was exactly the display Turner needed to keep himself in the race.

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However, as we've seen over the last year or so, there's only so much ground Turner can make up while on actual international duty.

The New England Revolution goalkeeper has been largely spectacular dating back to the USMNT's Gold Cup win, while Steffen, despite several missteps, remains in pole position.

And so Turner has taken matters into his own hands, putting himself in a similar situation as Steffen, who remains a backup at Manchester City.

Turner, now, has just one game left with the Revs following this camp as he prepares to make his own Premier League move to Arsenal.

“Well, I've been playing pretty well in MLS for the better part of three years now. And given the environment of transfers for goalkeepers in particular, this is the first real interest, first real offer that I've had,” Turner said this past week.

“And I've been trying to make things happen for quite some time. So, it seemed like the right time for me.

“Being a week in, week out starter in MLS didn't guarantee me to be a starter here for the national team, and going to the World Cup, I obviously want to play games.

"So, I need to shake things up in my club career and I think this is a positive step forward, for me in the long term and in the immediate future.”

But Turner's move brings up what could be a difficult situation for Gregg Berhalter, who may be forced to watch on as his two best goalkeepers serve as backups at top Premier League clubs.

A lack of gametime has quite obviously hurt Steffen at times, and there's a chance that Turner could very well find himself in the same situation at Arsenal if he fails to beat out Aaron Ramsdale for the No. 1 spot.

But, as this camp rolls on, Berhalter says that's a concern for another day.

"We have time. A lot can change," he said. "We have Ethan [Horvath] going into the Premier League. We have Zack in the Premier League. We have Matt going into the Premier League. We have Sean Johnson having an excellent season.

"I think it's time to just let all this play out, and that's the beauty of time in this case. What we can do is assess the situation, keep using these games to get the guys familiar with our game model, and then just keep watching their progress as they move through the fall with their clubs."

He added: "I'm excited for Ethan in the Premier League [with Nottingham Forest]. His club did a great job getting promoted and he got to play in the final minutes of that game.

"Matt Turner earned his way to move to Arsenal and I can't wait to see how he competes for gametime there.

"And Zack's been, I think this is his fourth season at Man City, the biggest club in the world. He's won a number of Premier League titles since he's been there, so it's just time to let this play out."

Play out, it will. There's still so much time between now and the World Cup.

There's so much time for Steffen and Turner to make their case to be the No. 1, or for Horvath, Johnson or Gaga Slonina to make their case to be the No. 3. Much can change in the next few months. Loans could be arranged, injuries can pop up, who knows?

But Turner is putting himself in the best position possible. It's no guarantee that he beats out Steffen and earns that spot, but he's certainly giving himself a shot.

“I'm going to have an entire preseason to get comfortable, learn the system, learn the ropes," he said. "And I think there's going to be a pretty busy fixture list at the beginning of the season.

"So I'm looking forward to the opportunities that will present themselves and I just want to showcase the best of my ability.

“For me, I've always wanted to just get out there and see how far I can take this thing. That has always been my goal for football, for soccer.

"And so I'm going to take it a step further into the Premier League and we'll see how it goes for me.

“It’s the sport that I love and I never thought that I’d be in the shoes that I’m in. So I’m playing with house money, and I’m going to just go for it.”

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