Kick Off: Le Toux back to Union as trade season heats up
A lot can happen in a year. Just ask Sébastien Le Toux.
And now the Frenchman is back home after the Philadelphia Union brought him back to PPL Park, returning one of the league's most productive players to the city where he made his name.
The City of Brotherly Love got its favorite soccer son back via trade with the New York Red Bulls, and the Union’s head coach John Hackworth was delighted to see Le Toux return: “We are happy to welcome Sébastien back to the club. His determination and heart are a perfect fit for the mentality of this team.”
Le Toux re-signed with the Red Bulls on Thursday, facilitating the trade just a few hours later. New York received Costa Rican forward Josué Martínez and allocation money in the deal.
The trade had been on the cards for a while, though, according to RBNY sporting director Andy Roxburgh: “Sébastien indicated to us at the end of the season that he wanted to return to Philadelphia and we respected his request.”
Philadelphia's all-time leading goalscorer – Le Toux scored 25 goals and registered 20 assists in the Union’s first two seasons as an MLS franchise – was unexpectedly traded to Vancouver at the beginning of the 2012 season, as Piotr Nowak dramatically dissembled his 2011 playoff squad. Le Toux scored four times for the ‘Caps and just once for New York during 2012. Union fans will be hoping the French striker picks up where he left off in Chester, Pa.
Philadelphia’s CEO & operating partner Nick Sakiewicz spoke of Le Toux’s lasting bond with the franchise, and the Union have a press conference penciled in for 10am ET on Friday to official unveil his homecoming: "In our hearts Sébastien has always been a Union player and his contributions on the field and in the community while he was in Philadelphia were invaluable. We are thrilled to welcome him back and look forward to having him rejoin the club."
But Le Toux won’t be the only player heading elsewhere, with plenty of moves expected during Friday’s Re-Entry Draft. See who your team could pick up here.
Juan Pablo Angel and Julian de Guzman headline the list of players available for selection, with Toronto FC getting first pick in both rounds this Friday and next Friday. See the full Re-Entry process selection order here.
With the Re-Entry Draft looming, some other big names signed new deals with their clubs on Thursday. Gonzalo Segares penned a multi-year deal with the Chicago Fire, while veteran Pablo Mastroeni is staying with the Colorado Rapids. Segares got the deal done right before his wedding. Watch what the Mastroeni had to say about his new deal here.
If you're wondering about the recipe for success in MLS, check out the Brian Straus' take at the Sporting News.
Elsewhere, Portland re-signed three more players, and Scottish defender Steven Smith was one of the players who had his option declined. The Timbers 2013 roster is beginning to take shape.
Sticking with the Timbers, we continue our 2012 review of every MLS side and Thursday was Portland’s turn.
Check out what the Armchair Analyst made of a turbulent campaign for the Timbers Army and what is in store next season. And there is plenty to glean for the Opta Spotlight, which wonders if Portland was worse in 2012 or just unlucky.
Also check out this Q&A with Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson.
Staying out West, MLS Cup champs LA Galaxy revealed 2012 Cup MVP Omar Gonzalez won’t be going anywhere on loan this offseason, as head coach Bruce Arena was eager to brush off speculation about the giant defender moving elsewhere. However, with just one-year left on his deal, LA may have to listen to offers.
“It’s based on if there is an offer there, we have to consider it,” Arena said. “The only timeline is that the end of January is the end of the transfer window.”
It also appears Christian Wilhelmsson is out in LA, with Arena suggesting the Swede will not be brought back.
Staying in LA, Chivas USA still haven’t got a new head coach, but the Goats are reportedly seeking the services of former player Ramón Ramírez, see this report from the Goat Parade.
Also check out the Year in Review for Chivas, including analysis from, once again, Matt Doyle with an Armchair Analyst column and Andrew Wiebe rounding up the stats in the Opta Spotlight.
Switching to Texas, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman spoke to the guys on ExtraTime Radio yesterday as FCD tied up George John to a new contract. Hyndman also spoke of Kevin Hartman’s departure, plus the guys discussed those Kaká rumors that just won’t go away.
Moving across the pond, US duo Brad Friedel and Clint Dempsey helped Tottenham Hotspur defeat Panathinaikos, as Spurs sealed their passage to the Europa League knockout stage.
Dempsey assisted on one and forced an own-goal as Tottenham ran out 3-1 winners. There was also plenty of success for other American Exports, find out how they got on here.
And it was also a successful day for two other USMNT players plying their trade in Europe. Most notably Stuart Holden, who returned to full training with Championship side Bolton Wanderers. Holden has played just once since being injured against Manchester United in March 2011, but Bolton expect him to be back in the next few months after stepping up his rehabilitation.
US captain Carlos Bocanegra could be back as soon as next week, according to Soccer By Ives, with his hamstring injury healing nicely during his loan spell with Racing Santander.
Meanwhile, over in the EPL, some heart-shaped hands may be wearing a pair of gloves at a chilly Stoke City training ground this week. Sporting KC’s Kei Kamara is training with the Potters for a short stint, as the winger prepares to log another standout campaign in 2013.
Another player accustomed to spending a little longer with EPL teams is RBNY’s Thierry Henry. The Frenchman has been rumored to be seeking a second loan move back to Arsenal after last seasons successful spell, but New York haven’t heard anything from North London.
“No club has made a request for a loan for any of our players," said a Red Bulls official.
Staying in North London, you all know about Adam Richman (the guy from Man vs. Food) and his crazy obsession with super-sized portions. Well he has another obsession, Tottenham Hotspur. Watch this in-depth feature from Spurs' YouTube channel, as Richman gets extremely emotional when given a tour of White Hart Lane. Epic.
Finally, this is pretty epic, too. Didier Drogba got the band back together – the 2011-12 Champions League-winning band that is – on Thursday for a special occasion. Although Drogba moved on to China after scoring the winning spot-kick that crowned Chelsea champions of Europe, he spent more than £800,000 on commemorative Super Bowl-esque rings for his former teammates. Classy Didier, real classy my friend.
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