The New England Revolution overcame a terrible first half on Saturday night with a much-improved second half, but the one steady component for Bruce Arena’s squad throughout Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls was the man in goal.
Matt Turner, who grew up in New Jersey, made his hometown team miserable, recording a career-high nine saves in the draw, which saw the Revolution move to 13 games unbeaten in their last 14 matches.
The Revs faced an onslaught of Red Bulls shots throughout the night; 22 to be exact, with 10 coming on target. Only one of those shots snuck through, with the biggest of Turner’s nine saves coming in stoppage time to deny Bradley Wright-Phillips a potential winner.
“That’s what we’ve been saying the last few months,” Turner said. “This was a draw that felt more like a win. It’s funny how those happen, but we know that the first half was unacceptable and we need to start putting together full 90-minute performances if we want to make a run in the playoffs.”
Despite the slow start from the Revs in the first half, which saw Marc Rzatkowski’s long-distance blast give the Red Bulls the lead in the 18th minute, New England responded in the second stanza with a completely different energy.
The Revs pulled level after the hour mark through Gustavo Bou, who picked up his fourth goal of the season, but Turner knew the visiting side still had their work cut out in the dying minutes if they were going to secure at least a point at Red Bull Arena.
That included a point-blank save on Wright-Phillips in second-half stoppage time, which was just one of many near chances that Turner was responsible for dealing with on the evening.
“When you’re on the road you always expect to get a little flurry at some point when the home team gets energy from the crowd,” Turner said. “It’s just about being locked in during those moments.
“I think I glanced up at the clock at 87 minutes and I said to myself that there was going to be at least one more moment where I needed to come up big just because they had some dangerous opportunities throughout the match.”
The match was a special one for Turner on several accounts, as the Park Ridge, New Jersey native saw many friends, family and local soccer supporters in attendance on Saturday night.
Turner, 25, played locally beginning at St. Joseph’s Regional High School, and then semi-professionally with Jersey Express (formerly in USL League Two).
His ties still run deep in New Jersey soccer though, with his dad coaching at Park Ridge High School. Many local players quite familiar with the Turner family were on hand to watch Saturday night, which added to the experience for the Revs goalkeeper.
“My dad’s been there volunteering with the girl’s team for a couple years now,” Turner said. “So during the offseason I’ve kind of gone and done work with the girls and boys by just volunteering. I got out and play with them and coach a little bit.
“I love giving back to my community that I was raised in. Hopefully they were excited and had a good time as well.”
Turner and the Revs remain firmly in the Eastern Conference playoff hunt, sitting in the sixth position currently. Arena’s side heads back home next weekend to take on the Chicago Fire, as the Revolution aim to continue their brilliant form of late.