VANCOUVER — Maxime Crepeau thought it was about time he saved a penalty kick.
The Vancouver Whitecaps 'keeper stopped an attempt for Team Canada in international play this summer, but traditionally struggled with the one-on-one blasts in Major League Soccer.
The 27-year-old native of Greenfield Park, Que., earned his squad a crucial win in dramatic fashion, stopping a penalty kick in injury time to preserve the Whitecaps' 1-0 victory over FC Dallas.
“It was about time," Crepeau said, adding that he'd conceded "about 10, 15" penalty kicks across his professional career.
"I’m happy that with this save at the end we can collect the three points. It’s an important moment in our season tonight."
Vancouver (8-8-9) were ahead in extra time Saturday when Patrick Metcalfe took down a Dallas player inside the penalty box. Referee Kevin Stott awarded the visitors a penalty kick and his call was upheld after video review.
Dallas substitute Franco Jara blasted a low shot at the centre of the net but Crepeau dove to his right, punching the ball out of harm's way.
Asked what was going through his head in that moment, the goalkeeper was without words.
“Good question. I don't even know myself," said Crepeau, who made a total of seven saves in the game to collect his fourth clean sheet of the season.
"Mentally and physically, you’re just in the moment and you know, trying to read some cues. And then your body just goes. And a beautiful moment happened.”
The Whitecaps mobbed their netminder before he shooed them away, urging them to continue to play.
Defender Andy Rose said his heart dropped when Stott made the call. But he believed in the man standing in Vancouver's net.
"I just had a great feeling he was going to save it," Rose said. "And what an incredible moment. The belief, the momentum it gives the team, the togetherness it brings, those are the type of moments you want to be a part of when you join a club."
Interim Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini praised Crepeau's play, calling him "one of the best 'keepers in the league." But he also noted that picking up three points took more than a single player.
“It’s not an individual effort," Sartini said. "You can’t achieve anything in this game if the entire team doesn’t work well. And today, the entire team works well and that’s the reason why any single player flourished.”
The ‘Caps were quick to attack Saturday and continued to bombard the Toros (6-12-9) across the match, outshooting the visitors 19-16.
Dallas controlled 59.1 per cent of possession but it was Vancouver that dominated much of the action, pinning the Toros in their own end for long stretches at a time.
Russell Teibert set up the lone goal of the night in the 20th minute. Stationed at the top corner of the box, the veteran 'Caps midfielder sent in and the ball glanced off Brian White's head and into the back of the net.
The goal was the striker's sixth of the season.
White nearly added another in the 41st minute. Cristian Dajome lasered a pass to White's feet and the American striker took a left-footed shot from the top of the six-yard box, only to see it skirt just wide of the post.
Dajome had an incredible chance of his own just three minutes into Saturday's game.
Vancouver's attacking midfielder Ryan Gauld delivered a beautiful ball to the Colombian in the box and while Dajome got his head on it, Maurer made the stop.
The Dallas 'keeper had four saves on Saturday.
Dallas, too, had chances in the first half, outshooting the 'Caps 9-8, though both sides registered three shots on target.
Crepeau preserved Vancouver's lead heading into the locker room.
He looked calm and poised as he tracked a header from Dallas wunderkind Ricardo Pepi in the 28th minute, scooping up the ball for the save. Just a minute later, Crepeau leapt up and snatched a ball out of the air following a header by Jesus Ferreira.
The victory moved the ‘Caps to within three points of a playoff spot with nine games to go in the regular season.
“We’re at that part of the season where every little effort, every little moment counts for so much. I think you saw it at the end of the game — we felt it was a game we were in control of," Rose said.
The result extended Dallas’ winless streak to five games (0-3-2) and marked the club’s first game under interim coach Marco Ferruzzi, who took over after head coach Luchi Gonzalez was fired on Sept. 19.
Saturday's game kicked off a busy week for the 'Caps. They'll head to Houston to face the Dynamo on Monday, then return to B.C. to host the San Jose Earthquakes on Oct. 2. Dallas hosts Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
NOTES: Vancouver's Bruno Gaspar (52nd minute) and Lucas Cavallini (58th) each received a yellow card caution for bad fouls. Dallas' Matt Hedges (71st), Ema Twumasi (81st) and Bryan Acosta (90th) all received the same warning. … The 'Caps hosted "front line heroes appreciation night" Saturday, marking the occasion with a standing ovation just before the 7 p.m. kickoff. Players on both the field and bench banged wooden spoons on frying pans, cheering for front line workers in the stands.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2021.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press