Le Toux: 'I'm meant to be' with Union
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CHESTER, Pa. -- After a contentious breakup and forgettable season apart, the Union and forward Sebastien Le Toux officially buried the past and reunited on Friday at PPL Park. And for everyone involved, the move felt like home.
“It’s a fantastic day for me, you can’t imagine how happy I was to hear that I would be back in Philadelphia to play for the Union,” said Le Toux, who was acquired via trade with the New York Red Bulls for young forward Josue Martinez and allocation money. “The only team I wanted to play for was Philadelphia. I still have stars in my eyes, I’m very happy. There are no words to describe it.
“It feels like it’s meant to be. I’m meant to be here. I love the city and I’m glad to be here.”
The story began with a stunning and unpopular January move by then coach Peter Nowak, who traded fan favorite and Union all-time leading goal scorer Le Toux to the Vancouver Whitecaps for cash considerations.
“We want to let the fans know that we heard them loud and clear when Sebastien left,” said Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz. “We really listened hard to what the fans wanted here in Philadelphia, the type of team they wanted on the pitch and type of players they wanted in this organization.”
Just 11 games into the 2012 season, Nowak was fired and John Hackworth took over the limping club, which went 10-18-6 to finish the season. It was during the club’s struggles that both Sakiewicz and Hackworth realized what they missed on the field and in the locker room.
“It was a very tough year for us and we learned a lot,” said Sakiewicz. “After John took over, things stabilized quite a bit, we started playing good football again -- but we were still missing a few pieces.
“It was after that change that we learned we needed a player like Seba that allowed us to spread the game out north-to-south. Peter brought in some players he thought could do that. We thought Danny [Mwanga] could do that, we thought [Jorge] Perlaza could do that and they couldn’t. Once that realization set in, we began talking in August and September about how we missed Sebastien as a player. But from the beginning we missed him as a person. His work in the community, the fans.”
With Le Toux, 28, now in the mix, the question turns to his role in Hackworth’s offense. Featuring a young group of strikers led by Jack McInerney, Antoine Hoppenot and Chandler Hoffman, the Union have specific plans for Le Toux.
“We’re going to use him as a forward, it’s the position he’s been the most successful at,” said Hackworth. “We can adjust tactically but we were missing a piece on the attacking side and Sebastien fills that. We’re excited to have him because he epitomizes what we want as a team -- work ethic, his competitiveness. Our fans expect us to outwork our opponents and I don’t think there is anyone in the league that does it better than Sebastien.”
Le Toux, who scored 25 goals and 20 assists in 2010-11 with the Union, agreed with his new coach’s plan.
“I love to play as a striker in the center, where I can be more free,” said Le Toux, who scored just five goals and two assists in 33 games between the Whitecaps and New York Red Bulls last season. “In Vancouver and New York I played more on the wing. It was a good experience for me but I didn’t have much success over there because it was different for me. I learned a lot but I’m glad to be back here.”
But whatever Hackworth’s plans are for Le Toux, the team will have time to work out the kinks. According to Sakiewicz, the club plans to carry Le Toux for the remainder of his career.
“We don’t publish terms of contracts but our intention is to have Sebastien here for a long time and not wear another MLS jersey in this league,” said Sakiewicz. “That’s our intention. He has a new contract and we are proud to have him here. Seba is here for the foreseeable future.”E-mail Ryan Bright at email@example.com