Good Monday morning Caps fans, hope your heart rates have all returned to normal after what became a nervy finish Saturday night.
The late penalty drama at BC Place belied an otherwise dominant match for the Caps, one of their more comfortable performances all season. The only real disappointment for Vanni Sartini and Co. will be that they couldn’t have put the match to bed sooner, which would have made everyone a lot more relaxed.
Obviously that didn’t happen. Patrick Metcalfe’s youthful indiscretion was spotted by VAR and it seemed as if the Caps would drop two points — which at this point would be a major blow in their quest for the playoffs.
Crepeau’s save wasn’t superlative (I still question why they had Franco Jara take the penalty for FC Dallas) but it was well read and showed Max’s nerves of steel.
It underscores an excellent second half for Crepeau after some questions were raised about his consistency midway through the season. Thomas Hasal’s capable performance while Max was away on international duty perhaps raised the question if it was time to mix things up in front of goal.
Obviously those questions have been settled. Crepeau has been excellent in recent weeks. If we look at goals added just for keepers, Crepeau is ninth in the league. But two of the keepers ahead of him (Alec Kann and Stefan Frei) have had fewer than 1,000 minutes. Subtracting them puts Crepeau in the upper quartile of MLS keepers. Some handling errors earlier in this season probably drop Max a bit further as well but his score seems pretty fair.
That gives credence to Sartini’s proclamation after the match that Crepeau is one of MLS’ best keepers — a compliment from a man not prone to hyperbole. Max’s shot stopping has always been excellent but we’ve seen some progress in other facets of his game this year as well.
It is worth revisiting our assessment of Crepeau (written by Caleb Wilkins) when he was signed. The dynamic at the time was a strange one — virtually everyone assumed Zac MacMath, the MLS veteran, would handle the bulk of the timeshare at keeper.
Caleb’s rundown was a favorable one for Crepeau but it also runs up against the limits of a difficult to assess USL sample size. Still, it is a pretty accurate summary of Crepeau’s time in Vancouver.
But the second half of the season has seen him cut down on some of the derpy moments and improve on his distribution, which has historically been pretty eh and has caused problems for a team which likes to build out of the back. He will never be Ederson but Crepeau things have gotten a bit better where the Caps can reasonable hope to use Crepeau to bypass the midfield and move the ball up the field.
At 27-year-old, the Caps know what they are getting from Crepeau. But there is reason to believe, based on the second half of the season, that Max is trending upwards. It could be enough to power a rise from a slightly above league average performer to one of MLS’ elite shotstoppers. And if the Caps make the playoffs, they will undoubtedly have their number 1(6) to thank as a big part of the reason why.
And perhaps the best part of Saturday night’s match for those who like to look ahead? All of the Caps’ best players (Cristian Dajome, Deiber Caicedo, Janio Bikel, Javain Brown, Lucas Cavallini) got meaningful rests, a big thing for a week with three eminently winnable matches. One down, two to go.
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