Addressing members of the media on Monday, USMNT goalkeeper Matt Turner discussed the injuries to his defenders.
Most recently, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards withdrew from the USMNT’s September squad. Both deal with injuries, and thus miss the pair of games scheduled against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
Back in May, Miles Robinson, a mainstay at center back with Walker Zimmerman during World Cup Qualifying, tore his Achilles in an MLS game. While the Atlanta United defender is working through recovery, it may be a challenge for him to be healthy, much less fit, in time for the World Cup.
Naturally, the replacements for Carter-Vickers and Richards in September’s games are two more center backs. Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie, both of whom played during World Cup qualifying, fill in the void in the upcoming games.
Turner says it does not matter who plays in front of him. For him, the talent and options at Gregg Berhalter’s disposal are strong, no matter the name on the back of the shirt.
Concerns for the USMNT at center back?
Matt Turner, who played for Arsenal as the Gunners won 2-1 in their Europa League opener, does not receive regular first-team minutes. He plays behind Aaron Ramsdale, generally seeing appearances in the Europa League or potential cup competitions later this season. His move to Arsenal stemmed instead from trying to get better and improving with the heightened competition of an elite club like Arsenal.
For the United States, he is the likely starter, but the lack of minutes is a concern to consider. He performs well in the Red, White and Blue, but he does that behind a relatively consistent defense.
With Walker Zimmerman perhaps the only healthy option at the back to see consistent and reliable minutes during World Cup qualifying, the pair of games against Japan and Saudi Arabia bring a new focus on the goalkeeper and defense.
For Turner, the change of those in front of him allows one of his other strong suits to flourish. If familiarity is not there, organization and management take over. On the field, that comes from the goalkeeper. In steps Turner, who accredits his communication as a reason for his comfort in goal even if he does not have experience with his center backs for the USMNT.
The United States plays the first of two friendlies on Friday, Sep. 23, against Japan. Four days later, the U.S. is in Spain to take on another World-Cup-bound squad, Saudi Arabia.
PHOTO: Imago / Icon Sportswire