The Longueuil native has enjoyed a rapid ascent to professional soccer, and now he's taking the time to learn and grow under his more experienced counterparts in Montreal.
When Max Crépeau decided to raise his arm and volunteer to play in goal, he did so with the belief that the switch would only be temporary.
On the South Shore of Montreal, Crépeau had mostly played as a defender for his under-10 team, because his coaches noted that he had one of the strongest kicks in the side and could easily clear the ball out of harm’s way. However, in one of his upcoming games against St. Hubert, his team needed someone to play in goal and Crépeau didn’t mind filling in just as long as he reverted back to his preferred position in defence immediately afterward.
Little did he know.
“I was thinking that I would just play that one time, but we ended up winning and I fell in love with the position,” Crépeau told Goal. “I haven’t taken my gloves off ever since.”
Eight years later in the spring of 2013, after passing through the ranks of local soccer, Quebec’s provincial team, and the Montreal Impact academy, Crépeau signed a professional contract with the Montreal Impact in MLS, where he linked up once again with Youssef Dahha.
Dahha has been Crépeau’s goalkeeper coach ever since he was 13, coaching him at the provincial level and in his four years with the Impact academy.
Crépeau acknowledged that Dahha’s instruction has been pivotal for his development.
“We’ve always had a very professional relationship,” Crépeau said. “And he’s always been very tough with me, which has been so important.”
Dahha remembers that when he first met Crépeau, he nearly had him kicked off the provincial team for being overweight.
“He was too heavy and slow and he was in tears when I told him that if he didn’t slim down after the holidays he would be cut,” Dahha said. “When he came back he lost a lot of weight, and I was impressed by the maturity that he had for his age – his reading of the game.”
Crépeau joined the Impact academy at 15 and quickly locked horns with players more than ten years older than him in the Canadian Soccer League. Soon enough, the national team program came calling and Crépeau represented Canada at the under-17 and under-20 levels, providing him with some of the fondest memories of his young career.
“I represented my country since the age of 15 and that’s one of my biggest accomplishments so far,” Crépeau said. “I always love the international games; it’s really special to represent your country, to put that jersey on and compete against other nations.
“I hope to one day play for the senior team.”
After overcoming a long series of knee injuries which nearly jeopardized his career, Crepeau was called up by the Impact for their 2012 postseason training camp in Italy. Following the team's 2013 preseason, Crepeau became the fourth player from the Impact’s academy to receive a professional contract.
With his first year in MLS now complete, Crépeau admitted that the transition from the academy to the Impact’s first team was a difficult one.
“It was tough this year, because when you’re at the academy it’s a different environment and now you’re playing with big guys in the big league, so it was a real transition,” Crépeau said. “When you’re with the academy you’re a big fish in a small pond and when you become professional you’re a small fish in a big pond, and I have to learn from this.”
Crépeau only played three reserve games in 2013 and Dahha expects the 19-year-old from Greenfield Park to see more action next year, but the charismatic goalkeeper coach insisted that what was most important for Crépeau in the first year was that he observed his more experienced teammates and learned how to conduct himself on and off the field.
“This year the focus for Max has been learning to become a professional, and I think from this perspective, in terms of his every day work, he’s improved a lot,” Dahha explained.
“He may have the body of a man, but there’s still a boy inside.”