MLS | Maxime Crépeau in the Los Angeles “cauldron”


It was May 10. LAFC had just advanced to the round of 16 of the United States Soccer Cup. And Maxime Crépeau, on the field of the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, was being blackmailed by the supporters of his new club. It was his birthday the next day, after all.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Jean-Francois Teotonio

Jean-Francois Teotonio
The Press

Already, we felt that the Quebec goalkeeper was in symbiosis with the team that had acquired him four months earlier. And, above all, with its groups of supporters.

“When I arrived in the city of Los Angeles, even before the season started, I went to meet the capos “, explains Crépeau during a virtual interview with The Press.

The capos — which means “heads” in Italian – are the leaders or even the conductors of the stands. They have their backs to the game and direct the chants and vibrations emanating from the supporters.

“For me, it was the least we could do to sit with them, shake their hands, and talk. By doing that, the integration happened naturally. You understand the magnitude of things. Their mentality. What they demand of you. »

Especially since in front of his net, Maxime Crépeau is only a few meters from those who create one of the most beautiful atmospheres in MLS: The 3252, the independent union of LAFC supporters.

“At first, you pay attention,” he says. You have the ear, because they are right next to it. But the longer the season goes, the more you fit in and it’s part of your match experience. »

You don’t need any extra motivation. The stadium is a cauldron. It’s noisy. It’s strong. They influence the energy, and how the team can respond.

Maxime Crepeau

In search of trophies

Crépeau and his team give it back to them. LAFC lead the league in 2022, with 57 points after 28 games. His place in the playoffs was assured with seven games left on the schedule.

The Greenfield Park goalkeeper started all games except one. And it helped the Black & Gold post the league’s second-lowest goals-against total.

Not bad for a player looking for new challenges after three years with the Vancouver Whitecaps.

His exchange from Western Canada to California had the effect of a bomb last January. It is that Crépeau, after having had the best season of his career, had himself asked to be traded. The Whitecaps had cited a « special request » on his part, while he spoke of « personal reasons ».


PHOTO JEFFREY SWINGER, USA TODAY SPORTS ARCHIVES

Maxime Crépeau with the Vancouver Whitecaps in April 2021

The result: the largest goalkeeper trade ever in MLS, a position whose players aren’t always the most coveted. The LAFC was sending $1 million in general allocation money to the Caps, spread over four years, in addition to a first-round SuperDraft pick in 2025.

During his interview with The Press several months later, he claims that there were « several reasons behind the exchange ».

It was an accumulation. In short, I was going to be 28 this year. I had spoken with my agent, and we were like, “Is Vancouver the place where I want to stay? Is this the place where my career will advance, propel itself? I had been there for three years. We had to find a solution in a club where we wanted to get trophies.

Maxime Crepeau

The Whitecaps qualified for the playoffs in 2021. LAFC did not. The opposite scenario is happening in 2022, with Wings dominating, despite some recent downturn. Needless to say, his bet paid off.

“There is no ego”

Training at his team’s performance center has just ended. Crépeau sits on the terrace of the facilities built on the campus of California State University, in the east of the city.

Before letting him go about his business, we can’t help but ask him about the acquisitions of superstars Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini by LAFC, which showed its ambitions this summer.


PHOTO JAYNE KAMIN-ONCEA, USA TODAY SPORTS ARCHIVES

Gareth Bale

“It’s great to be around these guys,” says Crépeau. They are easy going. They have a good head on their shoulders. We agree that we have beautiful names in our locker room, but there is no ego. That is what is magnificent. Everyone is there for the group, not for themselves. »

“Their experience, their calm, their experience, these are things you cannot buy. Afterwards, you see their effect on the group. Once you come up with those names, the level of the group in general increases. »

He is asked if they have told him anecdotes of their international journey since their arrival.

And Crépeau replied with a laugh: “We have anecdotes, but I can’t tell them! »

Canada in the lead?

With all that, there is still an international break in a few weeks. And Maxime Crépeau does not hide that he is still looking to get « minutes » with the Canadian team, even if Milan Borjan is the indisputable starter for John Herdman at the moment, and in view of the World Cup in November. .

“Every goalkeeper wants to play, explains Crépeau. Just like every gamer wants to play. Everyone wants to have playing time. It’s the fact that we are professionals and we always want to reach the next level. »

He qualifies all the same by indicating that he knows his role in the team.

Moreover, the goalkeeper always says he has « difficulty [se] project further than the next game”.

« I focus on one thing at a time, » he said, referring to the MLS season. But yes, I’m thinking about it. Because once you get there, you’re with all your teammates. Everybody is happy. We haven’t been together for three months. »

“It’s really nice to find the teammates and the colors of Canada. »

Stepping up… when leaving Montreal


PHOTO OLIVIER JEAN, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Maxime Crépeau with the Montreal Impact in 2017

The « turning point » in Maxime Crépeau’s career was when he was sent on loan from the Impact to the Ottawa Fury in 2018. Because until then, he had only been a reserve behind Evan Bush , notably.

“As a goalkeeper, you have to have a full season under your belt to know a little about who you are. […] You have to learn a little how to manage yourself and how to manage a whole year. When I made it to Ottawa, I learned a lot about myself. And I knew I had another level to my game.”

He wanted to return to Montreal for the 2019 season. But he asked to be traded because Evan Bush was preferred to him for the starting position at the time. « I have no problem with that, » he says today.

“In Vancouver, that’s where I really took off. It was the gesture where I was like, « OK, I can establish myself in the league. » Vancouver was extremely important to me, with my three years there. »



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