Matt Turner has opened up on the surprising process behind his outstanding penalty save record – admitting he runs on instinct rather than research of the taker he’s facing.
Turner has saved nine out of 20 penalties in his career to date, holding a stunning 45 percent success rate. During the 2021 MLS season, he saved two out of four penalties to boast the greatest percentage in the American league.
On the most recent episode of 90min’s Football Americana podcast, the New England Revolution and USMNT goalkeeper admitted that while most take the traditional approach of taping and studying their opponents, he likes to do things a little differently.
“How Ederson [Manchester City goalkeeper] has that attitude when he has the ball at his feet, that’s my attitude during penalty kicks,” Turner told host Yael Averbuch West. “I’ve saved more penalties on people that I don’t have film of, than I have that I have film of. I don’t know what it is…
“If I’m in the moment and I can shut my brain off and I can wait long enough, I’ll get a pretty good inkling of where somebody’s going to go.
“How? I don’t even know how my brain works, and if I can just shut it off, that’s when it works its best. It’s a weird thing.”
When asked if there is any specific preparation that goes into his penalty saves, he admitted it’s a little bit of natural instinct and practice too.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Turner admitted. “I definitely think that in saying that as well, I think maybe there’s been three penalties in my life or my career that I’ve dived the correct way on and they still went in. It’s a commitment to going to one side and knowing like, “Okay, I’m going this way. I’m saving it a hundred percent”.
“Well, not a hundred percent, there’s been three that have gone in that I could have saved and I didn’t. I think that for me, it’s the commitment to choosing a side, not second-guessing yourself and knowing what you’re going to do with the ball when it comes to you.”
Turner was voted 2021 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year after recording 101 saves and five clean sheets to inspire the New England Revolution to lift the Supporters Shield. He returns to action on Tuesday as the club faces New York City FC in the Eastern Conference semifinal.