There is perhaps no player in team sports who can switch from on-field hero to villain (or vice versa) as quickly and definitively as a soccer goalkeeper.
One small mistake, or one moment of game-saving brilliance – the margin for error can be minuscule. Thankfully for fans of Canada’s men’s national team, one of the team’s goalkeepers of the future knows exactly what it’s going to take to reach his – and the program’s – goals.
“At this level, every player is good,” Maxime Crépeau told MLSsoccer.com over the phone from national-team camp earlier this week. “What makes the difference is the little details – [for instance] if I do a sprint 100 percent, or just 90 percent.”
Crépeau, 19, has ample experience with Canada’s U-17 and U-20 sides, and now has his eyes set on being Canada’s first-choice ’keeper when qualifying for the 2016 Olympics rolls around. Before then, though, he knows he must pay his dues.
“As a young goalkeeper you have to play a lot,” he said. “I have to get some quality minutes in. My objective for 2014 is either with the Montreal Impact or here with the men’s national team, it’s to get some minutes.”
The year has gotten off to the right start for Crépeau, who’s just spent 10 days with the men’s national team training camp in Florida, capping it off by earning his first senior-team minutes in a Tuesday-night scrimmage against the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
The bigger benefit of the camp, though, may have been the opportunity to work and train alongside Canada’s two most-experienced goalkeepers, Lars Hirschfeld and Kenny Stamatopoulos.
“It’s exciting because I can learn from the older guys,” said Crépeau. “After all, the same objective [for every goalkeeper] is to stop the ball. Lars and Kenny are two positive guys in front of me, they’re really nice and they’ve given me advice on the little details.”
The training camp, which was mostly filled with players in their teens and early 20s, also gave Crépeau a chance to play alongside some fellow MLS academy graduates – who could very well be his teammates in the attempt to reach the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“I can [also] learn from the other guys, who are much younger, like Doneil Henry or Ashtone [Morgan]; they’re so young, but they’ve been in the program a long time now,” said Crépeau. “It has been great because every training session was based on certain key points of the team. Every session, you get some positives out of there.”
Although most players at the camp find themselves in a similar boat as Crépeau – young professionals, looking to establish themselves – he knows that his position on the field gives him a special level of responsibility.
And he’s ready to meet the challenge.
“Every time you step on the pitch you have to prove what you’re able to do,” said Crépeau. “[I have to] just keep going, keep going on the little details that can make me a better goalkeeper.”