FOXBOROW, Massachusetts. Matt Turner failed to keep a clean sheet on Sunday night. He did not save penalties, did not make dizzying stops and skillfully commanded his back line. In fact, he didn’t even take the field when the New England Revolution took a 2-1 win over Minnesota United FC at Gillette Stadium.
Turner didn’t do any of that on Sunday because it wasn’t necessary, at least not anymore. He made enough of them in his six-plus seasons with Revolution, amassed enough highlights to fill a crowded reel and enough memories to last a lifetime. Instead, Sunday’s send-off game became just a send-off, giving Turner a chance to just soak in the atmosphere one last time, enjoy dressing room banter with his teammates and appreciate the adulation from the Foxborough devotees.
There was some discussion that Turner would make one last appearance with the Revs before leaving for Arsenal in the coming days, but in the end, the current MLS Goalkeeper of the Year instead watched his successor, Djordje Petrovic, stand on his head in first half. help lead Revs to victory.
In Turner’s eyes, it was a “perfect night”.
“Definitely a lot of emotion and I give Bruce [Arena] and Kevin Hitchcock, thank you because they kind of handled me this week with all this buildup, all this tension for this one game,” Turner said. “The emotional nature of it all, it’s a lot. I’m still 27, 28, you know? I’m still learning how to deal with all this.
“Besides, my wife is in England in her ninth month of pregnancy, so I have a lot to do. Maybe today I wouldn’t have given my best performance and then kick myself for leaving on a bad note.
“After all, it is more than me. This team did well this week, got two good results and George is playing well. So, grow him into a role. You don’t have to throw me into a one-time game just to say goodbye. It was a perfect night in every sense of the word.”
There was a lot of fanfare on Sunday evening. The matchday gift was a Matt Turner poster, pre-game read over the public address system, and a video of highlights after the game. But nothing could compare to Turner’s emotional interactions with Revolution fans when he first joined supporter groups on the capo stand to receive a gift, a flag signed by the supporters themselves, which he said he “would cherish to the end of (his) life.” ”, and then drove around the Gillette Stadium field.
Turner spent the better part of his seven years in New England building relationships with these fans – he lamented the pandemic limiting that interaction in the past three seasons – and he couldn’t contain his emotions when faced with the full force of the impact he had. especially on young fans of the revolution.
“Signs that the kids were saying they were playing goalie because of me, just in a competitive market like New England where the football team is great and super popular, the basketball team is great and popular, same with baseball and hockey.” Turner said. . “For me, having an impact on some young people is amazing. I think that’s what really struck me, because I’ve always looked at people with respect, and the fact that people look at me, especially here, is amazing. This is amazing. I’m glad I was able to make my mark in that sense.”
Turner has left his mark on virtually everyone associated with the New England Revolution since signing as an unannounced and undrafted free agent in March 2016. MLS Best XI, Revolution Team MVP, MLS All-Star Game MVP, 2021 Koncacafe Gold Cup Goalie of the Year. The list of his awards is longer than the CVS receipt.
But Turner didn’t mention it Sunday night. In fact, he barely mentioned football. Instead, Turner focused on the relationships he developed during his time at Foxborough, many of which he would take with him on his next trip to London.
“It’s the people,” Turner said when asked what he would miss the most. “This is the media. These are the fans. This is the coaching staff. this is Cynthia [McGrath]which helps us to feed every day. It’s all those things. Sports training staff, every detail. I will miss the people the most because for me one of the things I love about football is the relationships you create. So many people from all walks of life come together and they’re all trying to achieve the same thing – win a football match.
“No matter what your role is at this club, covering this club to hold the front office, the coaches and the players to account, it’s all just beautifully intertwined things. So for me it’s people, no question.”
And for people? It’s you, Matt. No questions.