Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Sébastien Le Toux

Photo: Earl Gardner

When Sébastien Le Toux returned from his year-long Peter Nowak-induced exile from the Philadelphia Union, many people thought that he was a guaranteed starter. Whether one agreed with the trade to bring Séba back or not, Le Toux was (and is, for a while, at least) the Union’s all-time leading goal-scorer. Benching him would seem churlish, surely. What’s more, Le Toux had, historically, been much less effective as a substitute.

And indeed, not only did Le Toux start the first four games of the Union season, his return was marked in fairy-tale fashion by opening the scoring against Sporting Kansas City at home in the season opener. Yet, that first game aside, longtime Union watchers knew that something wasn’t quite the same. Instead of being the first-choice striker, a position quickly usurped by Jack McInerney, Le Toux was often played wide, both as a winger in a 4-4-2 or as part of a front three. Conor Casey and McInerney seemed to find a rapport. Le Toux’s place as ironclad starter was under threat.

And then, it happened. Le Toux was dropped. Conor and Jack led the line, while Séba got subbed on after an hour, or not at all.

Le Toux did fine in that role. He hustled and harried and tried to make things happen with his running. Still, it wasn’t vintage Le Toux.

But this past week, with three game in eight days, and Casey coming into the season off the back of a long injury recovery period (and thus not risked to start all three games), Le Toux seized his chance to shine a little brighter.

In the first game against Chicago, Le Toux was again a late-game substitute, coming on with a little more than a half hour to play. On a day when the Union looked less than their best, it was his quick thinking and quickly taken free kick that released McInerney for the game-winner.

On Wednesday, starting against LA, Le Toux’s tireless running alongside his partner McInerney had the LA backline in fits, and was a major reason why the Union were holding their own against one of the best teams in MLS. It was only after he came out that the wheels came off.

Then on Saturday, facing Chicago for the second time, it was again the Le Toux-to-McInerney connection that produced the game’s only goal. His pressing throughout the contest again made life difficult for the opposition and helped preserve the lead.

Le Toux’s past few games may or may not signal a permanent return to the Union’s starting eleven. The Casey/McInerney pairing has been very fruitful, even if the Le Toux/McInerney pairing has produced, as well. Regardless, Séba’s had a good three games, and the Union coaching staff must be encouraged to see it. In a season where it’s clear that every game is going to be a scrap, it’s imperative the Union have as many cylinders firing as they can.

This week, Sébastien Le Toux—not for the first time—was the engine that drove the Union. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

9 Comments

  1. Really have to respect what Le Toux is doing right now. Changing his game to fit the needs of the team. And looking good doing it.

    • +1. I am particularly impressed with how he upped his corner-taking skills. Here’s a guy who’s 27, has played a bunch of years of pro soccer, but is not hesitant to improve his game in meaningful ways.

    • He hasn’t changed it all that much he always got assists no matter how cold he was shooting.

    • Yeah, he always got assists (as I mention below). But not taking corners. This is totally new for him. He used to be not good at all at taking corners.

      • The issue earlier was Seba and Jack were making the same runs. Le Toux stepped back a bit and is playing much more as a provider and giving more space to Mac.

  2. In the big “should we get Seba back or not” debate, people seemed to forget how good he was as provider. The guy was team leader (or close) in assists in his first 2 years with us. He is a totally unselfish player with good vision even if he sometimes doesn’t finish chances.

    I bet a lot of people don’t realize that he’s now tied for MLS lead in assists so far this season.

  3. I’d like to know what he did to improve his free kicks. They used to be atrocious, and now they’re actually a strength for him.
    .
    I think the goals will come with Sebastien. He may not score a dozen a season, but if he was a 7g/7a guy, I’d be happy with that sort of production.
    .
    Together, Le Toux and McInerney definitely do a good job of pressuring opponents’ back lines. At some point, we may see a Le Toux/Casey pairing since Jack could be getting an extended call up to the Gold Cup.

    • I think his free kicks are not that different. I think the people in the box are better and the set-up and consistency of location and runs has allowed him to not force but lay the ball in.
      His team play was the reason I stated long ago that even if he never scores again I still like the move. He never complains and is always a happy provider. good on ya toux

      • -nickt.- says:

        the kicks are definitely different. he wasn’t even reaching his players before, kicking short, hitting the wall, etc…props to him for picking up his game.

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