Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Sebastien Le Toux

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Anyone who attended Philadelphia Union’s recent US Open cup victories against Harrisburg City Islanders and New York Cosmos will tell you they were not pretty. And for fans of a team in transition under new interim head coach Jim Curtin, the play was hardly encouraging looking ahead to the return of league play after the World Cup break.

For Sebastien Le Toux, those Open Cup games were continuing markers on his return to goalscoring form.

Actually, Le Toux’s hot streak began with the tying goal against Vancouver, the second Union goal in a glorious eight-minute fightback.

One week later, Le Toux recorded two assists, one on the 89th minute equalizer, the second on the 110th minute game winner, in the 3-1 extra time win over Harrisburg. It’s not recorded in the stats, but Le Toux also had a hand — well, a head, anyway — in the third goal of the win, nodding down Andre Blake’s big kick into the path of Andrew Wenger to set up his 117th minute curtain closer.

The next week, Le Toux scored the equalizer against the Cosmos (Wenger returning the favor this time), before scoring the game winning penalty kick.

In New England, it was a deft combination of alert anticipation and confident finishing that saw Le Toux put the Union ahead in the 42nd minute. For once it was the Union scoring in the closing minutes of the first half. Felt good, right? In fact, it was the first time all season.

Thoughts that the Union, who had looked so listless against lower division opposition in the US Open Cup, might actually win, on the road, against the team that had five weeks before struck five times at PPL Park only sharpened after Danny Cruz’s brilliant individual effort made it 2-0 to Philadelphia. Four minutes later, such thoughts were checked when Saer Sene cut the lead in half in the 73rd minute.

But Le Toux wasn’t done.

Five minutes after Sane’s goal, pressure from Cruz and Cristian Maidana saw Le Toux corral a poorly lofted New England pass five yards on the Union side of the halfway stripe. Striding forward, head up as he looked for options, Le Toux waited for Wenger to return onside of the retreating New England defense before sending him the ball wide. Receiving Wenger’s return pass a few yards to the right of the penalty spot, Le Toux settled with one touch of his left foot before striking a far post roller with his right underneath a leaping New England defender and past New England goalkeeper Brad Knighton.

Gesturing to his on-field teammates to join him, Le Toux promptly ran toward the Union subs warming up behind goal to celebrate.

A Union player has now recorded a brace in each of the last five games in all competitions for a 4-0-1 record, with Conor Casey starting the trend against Chivas USA and Vancouver, and Sebastien Le Toux continuing it against the Cosmos and New England. While it is unreasonable to hope the streak of braces will continue, the Union do seem to have found some goalscoring form, with nine goals in the last three league games, 14 over the last five games in all competitions. From the start of 2014 season, it took 14 league games for the Union to reach that mark.

Interim head coach Jim Curtin said after the game that the second half of the season is a new start for the players, and if the Union are to have any reasonable hope of reaching the playoffs, their chances will be greatly improved by veteran goalscorers like Casey and Le Toux returning to form. In 2011, it was Le Toux’s ten goals over the last 12 games of the season that kept the Union’s playoffs hopes alive.

Right now, it is Le Toux who is stepping up to revitalize such hopes again.

And that’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week.

2 Comments

  1. Let the man run free. Clearly he’s smart, energetic, and dangerous when he can roam around, make runs and finish plays. The Okugo/Lahoud pairing probably gives us just enough structure and shape to let guys like LeToux, Maidana, and Nogueira to wander a bit and create issues. Would love to see them as the ‘3’ in a 4-2-3-1 with Casey up in front of them.

  2. I really like LeToux as a forward. He just plays a better game. And even gets in on defense. Keep him up front and scoring!!

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