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Matt Turner Will Start USMNT's World Cup Qualifier Thursday Night Vs. El Salvador

BOSTON (CBS) -- Matt Turner will not be in net for the New England Revolution on Friday night in Philadelphia. But the goalkeeper will be in net Thursday night for the US Men's National Team on its World Cup Qualifier against El Salvador.

USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter made his decision Wednesday, after it was revealed that fellow US keeper Zach Steffen had his back spasms flare up. Steffen remains in Tennessee, leaving Berhalter with a decision to make: Go with Turner or Nottingham Forest newcomer Ethan Horvath in net.

Berhalter went with Turner, the man who has helped New England to the best record in MLS and is fresh off leading the USMNT to a Gold Cup title. Berhalter shared the news with Turner before the team left for El Salvador on Wednesday, and it was a pretty quick conversation between coach and player.

"He just told me I was going to be starting and he told me that he knows that I know what to do," Turner told reporters from El Salvador on Wednesday. "There really isn't much more to the story after that."

Turner texted his father, his girlfriend and a few others in his close circle to share the exciting news. Then it was off to El Salvador to get ready for Thursday night's match.

"I was very excited and motivated. It's going to be a great experience and I'm looking forward to the challenge that this game presents and the World Cup qualifying presents," said Turner.

Turner was named Best Goalkeeper in Gold Cup play, stopping 26 shots while allowing just one goal, winning all seven of his international starts. That one goal came off a penalty kick. He also had a clean sheet in the Gold Cup championship game, a 1-0 victory over Mexico.

Now he's set to make his first start in a World Cup qualifier. It has been quite the summer for the 27-year-old, who didn't start playing soccer seriously until he was 16.

Turner had a difficult time putting his incredible journey, especially in 2021, into words.

"It's tough to sum up just in one sentence or one paragraph, even," Turner said with a big smile. "It's been quite the journey, especially 2021's been an amazing ride for me. And so I'm just taking things as they come, trying not to get too high, get too low, when things are coming and going. And just trying to continue to challenge myself to become a better goalkeeper, a better person, every single day in, day out."

With the disappointment of 2017 serving as a motivator, Turner is eager to help the US earn a spot in the World Cup.

"I remember where I was when the US failed to qualify back in 2017," said Turner, recalling that he watched from his home in Walpole. "To think about that moment from my couch and to be here now, to have an opportunity to have a say in righting the ship, it's truly an honor."

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