Matt Turner’s Thanksgiving tradition in Park Ridge, New Jersey, is a turkey meal with all the fixings, but this year will be a little different.
While the United States shuts down on Thursday, goalie Turner and his teammates will be busy preparing for their World Cup match against England in Qatar.
The 28-year-old, who joined Arsenal from the MLS’s New England Revolution in June, will be in no mood for gifts as he attempts to shut down Gareth Southgate’s team.
A daunting prospect, compared to tucking into a seasonal feast, but Turner is more than happy to skip the routine as the U.S. attempt to repeat their famous World Cup win over England 72 years ago in Belo Horizonte.
“Yeah, every Thanksgiving, probably 30 or 40 of my family and friends all gather at my mom and dad’s house back in Park Ridge,” Turner told reporters on Wednesday.
“So yeah, we’re gonna miss out on that but mom and dad are here in Qatar. It’ll be a little bit different for the people back home this time around, but look forward to the future many more times with them.”
Londoner Cameron Carter-Vickers, who qualifies to play for the U.S. because of his Louisiana-born father, said Thanksgiving for him was “not such a big deal”.
But if the U.S. do pull of another shock at a tournament already shaken up by some big ones, the belated celebrations planned for the team on Saturday will be sweet indeed.
“All our families are here so on Saturday we’ll have a nice little Thanksgiving gathering, so I’ll enjoy that,” he said.
It is not just the players, either, who will forsake their usual Thanksgiving rituals. The U.S. Soccer Federation said it had sold almost 4,000 tickets for Friday’s game, with many making the 8,000-mile trip to the Gulf state.