According to several MLS journalists with, a strong track record of getting this sort of thing right, the Vancouver Whitecaps will shortly be trading Maxime Crepeau to LAFC for 1 Million in GAM. From certain angles this deal makes sense, from others it is questionable. Let’s look at some of those angles!
Firstly, let’s look at the angles from which this makes sense. The Whitecaps acquired Crepeau for a tiny amount of money and they are about to sell him for about 20x what they initially paid. Crepeau just had by far the best four months of his career after the fancy stats mostly had him pegged as an average shot-stopper for most of his career. I think it’s fair to ask how sustainable those numbers were. With Crepeau coming up on a contract year and due a big pay rise, this was the moment to sell him if you were going to maximize his value.
Also, the Whitecaps have a highly thought of prospect in Thomas Hasal waiting in the wings. You can’t just keep him sitting on the bench forever. My instinct is that they will not bring in another keeper and Hasal will be the first choice. But my instinct was also that they had no interest in trading Crepeau so maybe my instinct isn’t at its sharpest. I have seen some people express reticence about Hasal’s readiness but honestly, this is one of the aspects of the trade that concerns me the least. Over the course of his young career, Hasal has basically been at the level of an average MLS keeper, in terms of goals saved above expected. But, close observers will note that his career has been marked by high peaks and low valleys of form. Most of those valleys have come after long periods of not playing any games. So I think if he is able to play consistently then he will grow into the role. I’m not sure he will be as elite as Crepeau was during the Whitecaps’ late push for the playoffs but I am pretty sure he will be fine.
Let’s also not forget that the Whitecaps can do something with this money. There is certainly a world where the Whitecaps are better with Hasal in goal and a player worth 1 million in the field than they are with Crepeau as their starting keeper.
That brings us nicely to the ways in which this trade is concerning. First and foremost, for me, is the trade partner. As a team that narrowly missed out on the MLS playoffs in 2021, LAFC is a direct rival to the Whitecaps. A big reason they missed out was the poor state of their goalkeeping. Collectively LAFC’s goalkeepers let in 8 more goals than expected last season. If they had simply had average goalkeeping then their goal difference would have been +10 and a playoff spot would have been all but assured. So even if Crepeau can’t keep up the incredible form he showed from the summer onwards, he basically guarantees LAFC is going to be a serious contender again. I am not sure that I would be willing to give a team that kind of a leg up for 1 million in GAM.
Secondly, The Whitecaps were really dependent on Crepeau’s form to get into the playoffs last season. Without his excellent performances, it simply would not have happened. Though I like the acquisition of Tristan Blackmon I am not sure that he alone is enough to reverse that dynamic. So they had better have a plan to do something significant with this money or else things could get ugly (this is even if Hasal plays fine).
But I guess for now all we can do is wait for the picture to become clearer.