As the 2022 FIFA World Cup approaches, many are beginning to talk about who should be a part of the best eleven for the United States men’s national soccer team. One of the positions in question is goalkeeper, as the team has a few candidates who deserve an opportunity. TWSN Soccer Analyst Christian De Block breaks down the profiles for three American goalkeepers and discusses who could be the starter moving forward.
On the international level, the 2021 Gold Cup was the beginning of the rise of Matt Turner. The 27-year-old goalkeeper was fantastic throughout the tournament, keeping five clean sheets in six matches. Turner made a total of 22 saves, showing his incredible potential as a shot stopper. In the Gold Cup final against Mexico, the goalkeeper came up big when he needed to most. Turner was dominant across 120 minutes, helping the United States earn a 1-0 victory.
When the September international window rolled around, many wondered what Gregg Berhalter would do at goalkeeper. The head coach stuck with the player in good form for club and country, starting Turner in all three matches. While the USMNT was one able to pick up one win and two draws in September, Turner continued to show his quality.
It was more of the same to begin the October international window, as Berhalter gave the start to Turner for the match against Jamaica. The USMNT would go on to win 2-0, thanks to two goals from 18-year-old striker Ricardo Pepi. Turner was given the start in a 1-0 loss at Panama before being rested against Costa Rica to conclude the second set of World Cup qualifiers.
In the last six months, Matt Turner has shined for club and country. The goalkeeper has played an integral part in the New England Revolution earning the 2021 Supporters Shield, starting 27 of 33 league matches. The former Fairfield Stag has earned the trust of Gregg Berhalter, and that cannot go unnoticed. At this moment in time, it’s hard to argue that anyone other than Matt Turner should be the starting goalkeeper for the USMNT.
In two full seasons at Manchester City, the goalkeeper has made just 16 appearances in all competitions, with most of those coming in cup games. It’s hard to see a scenario where he earns consistent minutes in the immediate future, as the club has one of the best goalkeepers in Europe with 28-year-old Ederson.
During the 2019-20 campaign, the goalkeeper went on loan to German club Fortuna Düsseldorf. While Steffen was only able to keep two clean sheets in 17 Bundesliga appearances, we need to take into account that he was playing behind one of the worst defenses in the division. With all of that being said, the American international proved that he was capable of playing for a European club.
Steffen played the full 90 minutes against Costa Rica on October 13th after not featuring in any of the first five World Cup qualifiers. The 26-year-old goalkeeper gave up a first-minute goal to Keysher Fuller, but had to deal with very little for the rest of the match. Costa Rica only had a total of four shots, creating zero big chances. The United States would go on to win the match 2-1.
If Steffen wants to reinvent himself as the number one goalie in the USMNT, a move away from Manchester has to come sooner versus later. The goalkeeper did keep a clean sheet in 2-0 victory over Burnley on October 16, earning a rare league due to Ederson being unavailable through international duty. Zach Steffen may be the most talented keeper in the group, but his lack of minutes at club level may cause him to lose the starting spot going into the World Cup next year.
Similarly to Steffen, Ethan Horvath is also struggling for consistent game time at club level. The goalkeeper has only made three appearances for Championship side Nottingham Forest since making his move from Club Brugge during the summer transfer window.
The goalkeeper’s signature moment for the USMNT came in the CONCACAF Nations League Final against Mexico in June. Horvath began the game on the bench, but was called into action when Zach Steffen had to come off injured in the middle of the second half. The score was tied at two after 90 minutes, sending the match to extra time.
With the United States ahead by a score of 3-2, Mexico were awarded a penalty in the 124 minute. Andrés Guardado stepped up to the penalty spot with potential to send the game to a penalty shootout. The Mexican international shot the ball to the keeper’s right, but Horvath read it perfectly. The USMNT would hold on for the final few moments of extra time, earning a trophy over their Mexican rivals.
The American international was part of the squad for the three games during the September international window, but did not feature in any of the matches.Horvath was left out of the squad for the three games during the October international window in favor of New York City FC goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Many believe that decision was made by Gregg Berhalter as a result of the 26-year-old struggling to get into the team for Nottingham Forest. Congolese international Brice Samba is currently the number one goalkeeper at the club, making 14 league appearances so far this season. When Horvath has been on the pitch, he has shown the potential to be a very promising goalkeeper. Until he gets a substantial amount of minutes at club level, it’s difficult to see Horvath becoming the number one goalkeeper for the USMNT in the immediate future.