Speaking to the media on Monday, USMNT goaltender Matt Turner spoke about injuries to his defenders.
More recently, Cameron Carter-Vickers and Chris Richards have retired of the USMNT September Team. Both are dealing with injuries, and thus miss the pair of scheduled games against Japan and Saudi Arabia.
In May, Miles Robinson, a stalwart at centre-back with Walker Zimmerman in World Cup qualifying, tore his Achilles tendon in an MLS game. As the Atlanta United defender works on recovery, it may be difficult for him to be healthy, let alone fit, in time for the World Cup.
Naturally, replacing Carter-Vickers and Richards in the September games are two other centre-backs. Erik Palmer-Brown and Mark McKenzie, who both played in World Cup qualifying, will fill the void in the upcoming matches.
Turner says it doesn’t matter who plays in front of him. For him, the talent and options available to Gregg Berhalter are solid, regardless of the name on the back of the shirt.
Concerns for the USMNT in central defense?
Matt Turner, who starred for Arsenal as the Gunners won 2-1 in their Europa League opener, is not receiving regular first-team minutes. He plays behind Aaron Ramsdale, usually seeing Europa League appearances or potential cup competition later this season. Rather, his move to Arsenal stemmed from an attempt to improve and improve with increased competition from 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 for the Reds, Whites and Blues, but he does so behind a relatively consistent defence.
With Walker Zimmerman perhaps the only healthy option at the back to see consistent and reliable minutes in World Cup qualifying, the pair of games against Japan and Saudi Arabia put the focus on the keeper of goal and defense.
For Turner, the change from those before him allows one of his other strengths to flourish. If familiarity is not there, organization and management take over. On the field, it comes from the goalkeeper. In the footsteps of Turner, who credits his communication as a reason for his comfort in goal even though he has no experience with his central defenders for the USMNT.
The United States play the first of two friendlies on Friday, September 23 against Japan. Four days later, the United States are in Spain to face another World Cup prospect, Saudi Arabia.
PHOTO: Imago / Sportswire Icon