New England Revolution

Revolution among the big winners from the 2021 Gold Cup

Both Tajon Buchanan and Matt Turner put in award-winning performances at the international tournament.

Matt Turner US
Matt Turner sits with the Gold Cup award for Best Goalkeeper after the helping the U.S. win the final over Mexico, 1-0. Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images

At the end of the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. men’s national team pulled off an unexpected 1-0 win over Mexico despite fielding a younger and less experienced squad.

The deciding goal was scored by Massachusetts native Miles Robinson (who plays for Atlanta United), and provided a boost to the team’s confidence before World Cup qualifying resumes in the fall.

But Robinson wasn’t the only local angle for New England fans, as a pair of Revolution players featured prominently throughout the tournament.

Both New England goalkeeper Matt Turner and winger Tajon Buchanan were given awards following the Gold Cup’s conclusion on Sunday. Turner, 27, was given the Best Goalkeeper Award. Buchanan, 22, won the Young Player Award.

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For Turner, the tournament was a chance to finally shine in front of a national audience. Though his displays for the Revolution over the last few seasons have consistently drawn praise, the Gold Cup provided a chance to showcase his ability on a larger stage.

Though the U.S. team struggled to defend at various moments throughout the tournament — particularly against Mexico in the first half of the final — Turner conceded just one goal in six games (a penalty kick against Martinique).

He did more than enough to put himself not only in the conversation as the likely No. 2 goalkeeper on the U.S. depth chart behind Manchester City’s Zack Steffen, but may even have created enough for national team head coach Gregg Berhalter to give him a start when the final round of qualifying for Qatar 2022 begins in September.

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“I don’t envy Gregg Berhalter that you have three phenomenal keepers to come in and all three are capable of winning you games in CONCACAF,” said former Revolution forward and soccer analyst Charlie Davies on an episode of the “Extratime” podcast on Sunday. Davies noted that both Steffen and Nottingham Forrest goalkeeper Ethan Horvath could also handle the starting role, though Turner getting consistent playing time with the Revolution could prove to be the difference.

“You always go with the hot hand,” Davies said in reference to Turner.

“That’s always how the national team has been for the most part,” Davies added. “[They] want guys who are obviously considered the best, but are playing, week-in and week-out, and doing well. Matt Turner is doing that. So I think, in that instance, after tonight’s performance against the Mexican A-team, he vaults himself to No. 1.”

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Buchanan, featuring in his first major tournament with the senior Canadian team (having participated in the Olympic qualifying campaign for the U-23s earlier in 2021), was one of the team’s most dynamic players.

Facing Mexico in a closely contested semifinal, his individual effort after latching onto a long ball led to a tie game. It was the first goal Mexico had conceded in the entire tournament to that point.

Even before joining the national team for the Gold Cup, Buchanan’s performances have begun to draw attention from European clubs.

Asked about the possibility of New England selling the player it drafted ninth overall in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, Revolution head coach Bruce Arena recently acknowledged the growing interest.

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“Well, we have offers, and they’re for significant amounts in my view, in my income bracket, anyway,” Arena told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” in a July 29 interview. “We’re pretty adamant on the fact we’re not going to move any players this year and if there’s a move it’ll be made in January. I’ve spoken to clubs in four different countries in Europe that have an interest [in Buchanan], and some of our other players as well.

“That’s the economics of our sport is transfers, that’s all part of it,” Arena explained. “But right now, and I believe [ownership] feel the same way, we want to keep our team together this year and see if we can be a little bit more successful as we enter the playoffs.”

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Because of a tournament injury to U.S. center back Walker Zimmerman, another Revolution player was part of the tournament: Center back Henry Kessler, who was called into the team during the knockout round.

Kessler, 23, made his senior international debut for the U.S. team towards the end of Sunday’s final during the late effort to hold onto the 1-0 lead. Though it was unusual circumstances for a national team debut, Kessler gleefully welcomed the final whistle only moments after coming onto the field and got to celebrate winning a tournament with his teammates.

The Revolution, meanwhile, have continued to roll through the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer, which has continued its summer schedule simultaneous to the Gold Cup.

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Since losing both Buchanan and Turner to international duty, New England has notched four wins in a row after a loss to Toronto on July 7.

The team’s depth, which Arena has cultivated all season, stepped into fill the void left by multiple missing starters. New England will have all three players back in training shortly, with another busy slate of games coming in August.

The return of Kessler will be especially welcomed in the short term, as the Revolution are currently without fellow center back Jon Bell following a lower-body injury he sustained on July 25 in a 2-1 win over Montreal.

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