They say that a week can be a long time in politics. Well if we’ve learned anything in this modern era of football, it’s that a year can be an absolutely crazy period of change in the game and at clubs.
If you’d told us a year ago that Marc Dos Santos would be back at LAFC as an assistant coach, with Maxime Crepeau joining him in the City of Angels as the team’s new number one goalkeeper, we’d have found that hard to fathom. Yet here we are.
Crepeau’s trade to LAFC last month sent shockwaves throughout the Vancouver Whitecaps fanbase and was a statement of intent from his new side, who gave up a million dollars in General Allocation money to land the Canadian international, who is enthused, excited, and raring to go with his new club.
“I was right for that new chapter with the organisation who has the mindset of winning,” Crepeau told media on a zoom call on Tuesday. “Even though it’s five years in the league that winning mentality and the culture of winning within the organisation and the fans. It’s fantastic timing. There were some great additions in the offseason so now it about gluing everything together and getting ready for that campaign.”
From a Whitecaps perspective, the timing was far from great. Crepeau hadn’t arrived for the team’s preseason camp and the trade was announced four days later, with a very special personal situation being cited as the reason why the ‘Caps keeper needed to move on.
When AFTN spoke with Crepeau in December, he was excited and looking forward to what the 2022 season would hold in store for the ‘Caps. Six weeks later and he was away, traded to a Western Conference rival. So just how did that timeline play out?
“When we spoke before Christmas, there was some stuff going on in Vancouver before my move here to LA,” Crepeau told AFTN on the call. “The best fit for me for my career and for what I want to achieve, LA was interested, and to be honest that was the best solution for me for my career to develop as a goalkeeper. And to gain a lot experience in this league, this was the next step for me and that’s how I see it.”
Crepeau made it clear that he isn’t viewing this move as a temporary stopgap to a bigger move overseas. His goal is to be in LA for the long term, although he wasn’t ruling out a dream move to Europe at some stage down the line.
“I’m going on 28 in May,” Crepeau said. “My goal is to be one of the guys that can bring the club into the playoffs and fight for silverware every single year. To be in that core group of guys for the organisation that can make it happen.
“How do I see my stay? I want to be here for the club to make something great. To write history. And then if there’s an opportunity overseas in one, two, three, five years, and it makes sense to everybody, of course. To play in European competition is the dream of pretty much every athlete, but my focus is here at LAFC for many years to come.”
Crepeau has played in LA a couple of times in his MLS career with the Whitecaps, loving the atmosphere at the Banc of California stadium. And he’ll have a familiar face to help him transition into his new club quicker, with former Whitecaps head coach, and someone Crepeau has known since he was 15-years-old, Marc Dos Santos officially confirmed as one of LAFC’s assistant coaches again today.
And those previous experiences, along with some chats with Dos Santos about life at LAFC, helped Crepeau know that this was the right move for him.
“I came here to LA in 2019 and in 2021, which were amazing experiences in being with the opposition locker room,” Crepeau said. “The fans brought the energy to the bank and the atmosphere is a proper football one. That’s the only experience I had at LAFC before, but yeah I spoke with Marc, maybe once or twice, just before things got into movement before the trade. That was a smooth transition.”
Crepeau finally got the chance to join up with his new teammates in LA this week after being away on international duty with Canada. Two sessions in and head coach Steve Cherundolo is already seeing the signs of why they wanted to make Crepeau their million dollar man.
“Max has proved over the last three seasons that he’s one of the top keepers in this league,” Cherundolo said. “On top of that, his personality and character are things we’ve been looking for as well. He’s a great communicator, a great guy.
“He brings a lot of energy on a daily basis, which is something we’re trying to inject in this group. He’s been here a couple of days and it’s been exactly that. So we are very excited about that acquisition and what he can bring to this team.”
LAFC are getting a keeper with three seasons’ experience as a MLS starter. A player who has become better year upon year, for both club and country, and who they hope will solidify an, at times, shaky looking backline.
When Crepeau looks back at the player he was when he first came to Vancouver in 2019, to the player he is now in LA three years later, he sees it as a natural growth, and just the start of what he is capable of achieving in the game.
“Playing games, there’s no secret as a goalkeeper, will work on your craft and will make yourself better as a goalkeeper and as a person,” Crepeau told us. “You have experience with situations that you have no idea how to deal with without playing.
“As a goalkeeper you need to go and play a full season, which my chance was in Ottawa back in 2018 and then with Vancouver I had the opportunity to do it in MLS and within the league. The fact that I was able to play in Vancouver helped me a lot to understand where I was at, where I can improve in my game, and what’s next for me.”