Le Toux returns to the Pacific Northwest
It’s funny how things can change over time. Only four short years ago, Sebastien Le Toux was not a well-liked figure around these parts.
Le Toux was the top goalscorer for fierce rivals Seattle Sounders in the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1). In 2007, he led the team with 10 goals, was named the league’s Most Valuable Player, and helped the Sounders to their second USL-1 championship title in three seasons. The following year, in the team’s final season at the North American second division level, he again paced his squad with 14 goals and four assists for a total of 32 points – the next closest total was 14 points. Included amongst those tallies were three goals against Vancouver.
His play saw him become the first player signed to Seattle Sounders FC, as they made the jump to Major League Soccer (MLS) in 2009. He scored only one goal during his first season in MLS, and was perhaps underutilized by Sounders FC in their debut year. That all changed the next season though, as Le Toux left Seattle and was reinvigorated by a fresh start.
Left unprotected by the club he gave so much for over three years, Le Toux was selected by the expansion Philadelphia Union. He scored a hat-trick in the Union’s first home match, quickly endearing himself to the Philly faithful. The Frenchman went on to lead the team with an impressive 14 goals and 11 assists, proving that he could not only play in MLS, but be an elite attacking player. He continued to defy criticism last year, this time showing that he’s not just a good player on a bad team. His 2011 season again had him lead his team with 11 goals and nine assists, as the Union made the playoffs in only their second season in the league.
While it would be a stretch to call the ‘Caps and Union arch-rivals, there was certainly no love lost in the matches they played last year. The first encounter was an especially physical affair that ultimately led to Atiba Harris’ season-ending injury. That said, Le Toux himself is one of the most sportsmanlike players in the league. He has never been booked in MLS and has won the league's Fair Play award each of the past two seasons. So while he did nothing to offend ‘Caps fans, in playing for a physical Philly side, he did little to erase the distaste from his time in Seattle.
And now, the man who can’t stop scoring comes to Vancouver to wear the blue and white of Whitecaps FC. Now we will point to his sportsmanship and his constant work rate as reasons to cheer him on. We’ll call for the French connection of Hassli and Le Toux. We’ll argue for him to be recognized when he’s underrated and yes, we will love seeing him score goals. In fact, it would not at all be surprising if Le Toux becomes a fan favourite, as he was in Seattle and Philadelphia.
Things don’t stay the same forever, but my how they can change.
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