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USMNT No. 1 Matt Turner: Gabriel Slonina ready to learn from and compete with World Cup veterans

Gabriel Slonina US U20sGetty Images
  • Slonina the youngest player in Gold Cup squad
  • Turner ready to help guide the Chelsea starlet
  • U.S. to face Jamaica in opener

WHAT HAPPENED? The Chelsea teenager is the youngest member of the USMNT's Gold Cup squad, where he joins World Cup veterans Turner and Sean Johnson. Slonina made his USMNT debut earlier this year and was recently the star for the U.S. during their run to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals.

Slonina is seen by many as a future goalkeeping star and the potential USMNT No. 1 of the future. Turner, though, is the starter now, and he says he's enjoying the opportunity to both mentor and compete with the young shot-stopper.

WHAT THEY SAID: "Gaga is a great goalkeeper," Turner said. "He's extremely talented and, for me, I don't really need to teach him too much. I think he's got a really good head on his shoulders. He's a true professional. He's always really eager and willing to learn and have a conversation about things and that's really refreshing for a goalkeeper like myself, to be able to sort of bring him along in an experience like this.

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"But I know in his mind, he's not here to just be brought along. He wants to be playing and I think he's a super competitive guy. If I know anything about him, he wants to be on the field just as much as I do, so it's a healthy respect between us. Obviously, he's got things to learn, but he also keeps me on the top of my game and wanting to perform at my highest level."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Turner is one of just a handful of holdouts from the Nations League squad which topped Canada to win a trophy on Sunday night in Las Vegas. It's a short turnaround for Turner and co., as they now join up with a very different group for the Gold Cup as the U.S. looks to seal another two-trophy summer.

Turner, though, doesn't see it as two different groups necessarily, but rather one big national team pool looking to lift the USMNT as a whole.

"It's just one group," he said. "Between last camp in this camp, it's all one team, it's all one pool and I think the messaging is very clear: when there's a trophy on the line, we expect to compete for it and we know our fans expect us to compete and put our best foot forward.

"Last weekend, we took care of business and we got a trophy, and now it's time to completely shift gears and win another one. We were able to do that in 2021 and we know how great that was for our federation and for our player pool. It gave a lot of guys opportunities that wouldn't have presented themselves otherwise. We're looking for the same and I know a lot of guys are really eager to represent the country."


Matt Turner World Cup 2022GettyGaga Slonina USMNT Serbia friendly 2023Getty ImagesJohnson USMNT Uruguay 2022Getty

WHAT NEXT FOR THE USMNT? The U.S. will begin their Gold Cup campaign on Saturday with a match against Jamaica in Chicago.

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