MONTREAL – Goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau said he’s ready to start playing real games for the Montreal Impact.
The 21-year-old reported to camp Monday along with defender Wandrille Lefevre and midfielder Kyle Bekker after a spell with the Canadian national team.
The highlight for Crepeau was getting his first senior team start in a friendly match on Friday night in Carson, Calif., when he drew praise from Canada coach Benito Floro for his play in a 1-0 loss to the United States.
He allowed only Jozy Altidore’s 89th minute goal after a series of fine saves.
“It was a great experience,” said Crepeau.
“Now I’m looking forward, here and with the national team, to push to get some minutes.”
The Greenfield Park, Que., native now hopes to get into some meaningful games for the Impact.
He joined the Impact’s academy in 2010 and signed with the pro team in 2013, but has yet to appear in an Major League Soccer game.
Least season, he played 11 games with FC Montreal, the Impact’s reserve team that plays in the United Soccer Leagues, but now wants action with the first team in league games and the Amway Canadian Championship.
“Real professional experiences, not playing in front of 200 people,” he said.
“Full stadiums, with the quality and quickness of the play. I think I’m at the point of playing real minutes and proving to people that I am no longer a third keeper.”
At the moment, he’s third on the Impact’s depth chart behind starter Evan Bush and 32-year-old backup Eric Kronberg.
Coach Mauro Biello said Crepeau may have to wait.
“He needs to continue to play and get minutes,” said Biello.
“What’s important at this point of his development is to get the experience of playing, whether it’s in the USL or moments in the [Canadian championship]. Those decisions have to be made, but the main thing is that he continues to play.”
The past few months have been eventful for Crepeau.
He was the starter for a Canadian under-23 squad that came within a win of qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“It was tough to swallow, not going to Rio, because it was a dream,” he said.
Then he was picked to train for three weeks in January with Bologna FC of Italy’s Serie-A, a club co-owned by Impact president Joey Saputo, before going to the national team camp.
Both Canada and the U.S. used mostly North American-based players because their camps fell outside of a regular FIFA break for international matches.
Canada’s usual starter, Milan Borjan, plays for Bulgaria’s Ludogorets Razgrad.
The back-ups for World Cup qualifying matches in November were Simon Thomas of Strommen IF in Norway and Kenny Stamatopoulos, who plays for AIK Fotbol in Sweden.
But Floro said after the U.S. match that “Maxime is one of the young players we believe in a lot. And it’s a good day for us because the other goalkeepers are older keepers, so we need a young boy like Crepeau.”
Midfielder Johan Venegas also reported to camp after a stint with the Costa Rican national side, while American fullback Eric Miller was due in Monday night.
The Impact were back from a training stint in Orlando, Fla. for a week of practice at Olympic Stadium.
They have already cut some players, including second round draft pick Keegan Smith and trial midfielder Pedro Jeanine.
They head to Tampa, Fla. for a pre-season tournament on Feb. 15, when star striker Didier Drogba is to join camp.
© 2016 The Canadian Press