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Season review: Sebastien Le Toux

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Editor’s note: At the end of the 2010 season, we posted a series of season reviews of every Philadelphia Union player. Over the next several weeks PSP continues with a review of the 2011 season.

What a roller-coaster ride 2011 was for Philadelphia’s favorite Frenchman. Sebastien Le Toux came off a year where he was leading goal scorer for the Union and a legit MVP candidate. All signs pointed towards a continuation of his torrid scoring pace for the 2011 campaign. But some new personnel moves and a change in formation which forced Le Toux away from the goal made the first half of the season a very tough road. However, come late in the second half, Le Toux was placed back in front of goal, and his skilled touch returned and his goals at the end of the season helped push the Union to its first playoff berth. It was an amazing turnaround for a player whose season looked like it was heading for disappointment .

High Point

Scoring the equalizer deep into injury time in that raucous 4–4 draw at PPL against New England. Le Toux finally scored from open play the week before in Real Salt Lake, but this goal and it’s dramatic context had an air of “He’s back!” to it.

Low Point

The signing of Carlos Ruiz. He and Le Toux never came close to gelling. Plus, with Ruiz firmly planted in front of goal by the coaching staff each game, Sebastian was forced to play on the wing, a spot he can play well but not one where he finds it easy to score from. After a while, his touch got heavier and heavier and many in the stands wondered if he would ever score from open play.

Strengths

Where to begin…?

His commitment to fitness and endurance is amazing. He isn’t the fastest guy in the league, but he is just as fast in the 90th minute as he is in the first. His constant running gives defenders nightmares. He will probe and prod a defense all game until he finds the weakest link and exploit it. And for a striker with two straight double-digit goal scoring seasons, he is incredibly selfless. He has also lead the Union in assists for two straight years. His touch around goal is excellent.

Weaknesses

For all of Le Toux’s qualities, his set pieces are lacking. His corner kicks rarely get by the first defender and his free kicks tend to misfire. One hopes that with a full training camp under his belt with the Union, Freddy Adu will emerge as the Union’s free kick taker, relieving Le Toux of this duty. Also, Le Toux isn’t much of an aerial threat. This wouldn’t be so glaring if the Union had SOMEONE who was. (You can make the point Daniel and Paunovic were threats, but never consistent ones.)

Outlook

Sebastien Le Toux’s form at the end of the season helped propel the Union into the playoffs, right now, it all looks good going into the new season. Nevertheless, there are some issues that need to be raised. I and others have tried to explain away his first half slump, but it did happen and who is to say another one isn’t around the corner. Also, hopefully, the Union’s coaching staff has come to their senses and will play him upfront as a strike—no more pushing him to the wing. Another key to Le Toux success next year will be who is playing behind him. Attacking mid was a question mark all year and, even with the addition of Adu, the 2011 season ended with no answer. Either Adu or Roger Torres must grab the reigns early and establish themselves. The addition of the Costa Rican forward Josue Martinez also puts into question who will be Le Toux’s strike partner going into the new season. So, there are a few question marks around Le Toux, but one thing is not in doubt. He will come out of the gate every bit the hard-worker and team-player that he has been the last two years.

*Stat chart legend:
POS: Position; GP: Games Played; GS: Games Started; MINS: Minutes; PA: Passes Attempted; PC: Passes Completed; P%: Passing Accuracy Percentage; SHTS: Shots Faced; SV: Saves; GA: Goals Allowed; GAA: Goals Allowed Average; PKG/A: Penalty Goals/Attempted; W; Wins; L: Losses; T: Ties; ShO: Shutouts; W%: Win Percentage; SV%: Save Percentage; FC: Fouls Committed; FS: Fouls Suffered; YC: Yellow Cards; RC: Red Cards

2 Comments

  1. Hit it square on the head, Seba is a striker and not playing him in his proper position is a terrible waste of his finishing ability. It’s almost as if his willingness to do whatever is asked of him for the team and his perceived versatility have worked against him in that he was shunted out onto the wing for that wasteful, selfish crybaby Ruiz. Here’s hoping Nowak has learned this lesson. And yes, for chrissakes someone else needs to take corners.

  2. I’m extremely impressed together with your writing skills as well as with the structure to your blog.

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