'Shit, I'm not gonna win this': LAFC's Max Crepeau recounts leg-breaking, MLS Cup-winning heroics
"I saw the ball slow down and thought... 'Shit, I'm not going to win this challenge.' But my leg's already swinging. I know I'm late, and I know it's going to hurt."
The moment is iconic and devastating in equal measures. LAFC is level at 2-2 against visiting Philadelphia Union in the 2022 MLS Cup final. It's the 110th minute of play. The tired legs of the LAFC backline can't keep pace with a sudden surge forward by then-Union man Cory Burke, who sniffed out an errant backpass and leapt at the opportunity with fresh legs.
In a flash, he's 1-on-1 with LAFC goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau. The Canadian knows what he has to do... but it's a duty that exacts a heavy toll.
So he went for it, full send, bringing his mark down well outside the box and drawing a red card in the process... while breaking his leg, ruling him out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
"It was... quite something," Crepeau told the Footy Prime podcast crew, as he reflected on a life-changing moment to round out the year.
"To be fair, I didn't think about it one half of a second. My body just went, and as I saw the ball slow down, I thought, 'Holy shit.'
"I spun over once the contact happened, saw my leg and I'm like 'Alright, this is not good.'
"There's no pain. It's pretty numb for 5, 6 seconds ... but as soon as I see my leg? I'm in shock. Once the nervous system and brain picked up what's going on, the pain arrived soon after."
A 10-man LAFC would go on to win the MLS Cup on penalties, but for Crepeau, the highs of championship glory were quickly cut by the heartbreak of missing out on Canada's historic return to the FIFA World Cup.
"It was a roller coaster of emotions," Crepeau told Footy Prime. "It was such a high of emotions where you sacrifice everything for that one game - the last game of the season. But I knew the World Cup was gone for me, and I knew the pain in the ass of the process of getting back, the day-by-day.
"You pay the price not the day of - you pay it over the first few weeks and months after surgery. There was happiness because we're champions, but sadness and pain because the World Cup was gone for me. It was such a weird moment.
"The first 48 hours was a honeymoon phase. Right away, I had surgery, so I was on narcotics as well - which is not a good thing for emotions. But the first week post-surgery? My body felt like shit but my mind was partying because we were champions. The second week after surgery... all you hear and see is the World Cup. My body is getting better, but my mental state goes down.
"As the World Cup started, I was completely fine. I accepted it... Yeah."