VANCOUVER — Zac MacMath knows the grind of being a No. 2 goalkeeper. From 2016 to 2019, the Florida native was an understudy to former United States men’s national team keeper Tim Howard.
Howard quickly took the No. 1 spot from MacMath when the Colorado Rapids signed him in 2016. MacMath, 27, who once featured for the U.S. under-17 and under-20 teams, opted to sign with the Whitecaps during the winter, hoping the change would lead to a starting role.
It has not quite worked out that way, however.
MacMath has only started once for Vancouver, a 1-0 defeat to Orlando City. Instead, Canadian national team keeper Maxime Crépeau has been head coach Marc Dos Santos’ top choice between the sticks.
“I guess as a goalkeeper there’s only one that you can play, so you’re always going to have these kinds of battles,” MacMath told Pro Soccer USA when asked Wednesday about the battle for the starting job.“You have to take it day by day, don’t get bogged down and worry about it, you know. Not playing can really affect you in practice — so I just try to take it each day by getting better each day and being ready to play.”
With the Vancouver Whitecaps once again on the road, there was some speculation that perhaps Dos Santos could give MacMath the start Friday. But Crépeau has been excellent in goal, and judging by Wednesday’s practice, it is unlikely Dos Santos makes a switch and gives MacMath a rare start against his former club.
MacMath no longer has an affinity for the Colorado Rapids, despite playing there just a season ago.
“I’m kind of over it now, just treat it like any other game, honestly,” he said.
At the same time, MacMath does feel he learned plenty from being Howard’s understudy.
“His experiences and his, you know, stories of playing in Europe and with the national team all across the world — just how he goes about keeping his body ready, you know, keeping his mind ready for playing game and game out, up ‘til, you know, how old he is now,” MacMath said.
MacMath now hopes the experience of playing together with Howard and battling him for the No. 1 spot will translate well to his current challenge in Vancouver.
Then there is his relationship with Crépeau, which MacMath explains is competitive but collegial. For now, MacMath is awaiting his next chance to play for the Whitecaps. A chance that is likely to come this June when Crépeau is expected to represent Canada at the Gold Cup.
“It’s a little bit difficult, but I think, you know, spending as much time as we spend together you kind of develop a relationship on and off the field,” MacMath said. “We know that we need to push each other to make each other better and really help the team on Saturday. So, you know, whether it’s him or I, we just want to make sure we’re preparing each other to be ready for the game on the weekend.”