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Maxime Crepeau draws rave reviews from Canada national team debut in loss to US

CARSON, Calif. – It was just one game, but Canada may have glimpsed the future on Friday night with Maxime Crépeau in goal.

The Montreal Impact Homegrown Player, making his first senior appearance for the Canadian national team, made six saves and nearly had a shutout on the road in his debut, only for Jozy Altidore’s 89th-minute goal to give the US national team a 1-0 win Friday in a friendly at StubHub Center.

While he narrowly missed notching a result and clean sheet, Crépeau drew wide acclaim for his first cap, with one teammate, Will Johnson, saying after the game “I’m proud of him.”

“It has been a very good performance,” Canada head coach Benito Floro told reporters after the game. “Maxime is one of the younger [players and] we believe [in him] a lot. And for me, this moment is a good day for us because the other goalkeepers are older ‘keepers, so we need a young boy like Crépeau.”

Crépeau, just 21 years old, took the acclaim in stride.

“Obviously it’s a good experience,” he told MLSsoccer.com “I love it. When I was on the field I was just enjoying it, don’t think about anything and just playing soccer with the boys. So I think it went pretty well for me. “

While nerves may have been expected, Crépeau didn’t put too much pressure on himself: “When I started the game, I said to myself, ‘Just do your best.’”

It’s probably too early to hand Crepeau the No. 1 jersey for Canada just yet, but with several players getting starts in recent years and the core goalkeepers getting older, the debutant may get more opportunities on the back of his performance against the US.

Of course, seeing some action on the club level will likely help his prospects on the national team front. Despite being with the team since 2013, Crépeau has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Impact, and Evan Bush is expected to be the starter again in 2016. But the young ‘keeper aims to move up the depth chart and see some action for the first team this year.

“My goal this year is to be second [goalkeeper] in Montreal, get some professional minutes, Canadian [Championship] is a great option,” he said. “… But overall my goal is to get some professional minutes in the cup and in the league. If for whatever reason our goalkeeper in Montreal can’t play, I can step in, and I think I showed tonight that I can do the job while the season is on.”

Teammate Cyle Larin said that with some playing time for his club, Crépeau could be the next young Canadian to break through in MLS.

“He needs a chance,” Larin said. “I think when you get your chance, like I did, you’ll do great things.”