Union Notebook: Le Toux playing at his best again
Sébastien Le Toux is on fire.
After scoring just one goal through the first 22 games of the season, the Philadelphia Union striker has erupted for seven goals in his last seven contests, the most recent one coming in Friday’s 1-1 draw with Sporting Kansas City at Livestrong Sporting Park.
“My confidence is good,” Le Toux said following the game. “It’s nice for me to get seven goals in seven games, and it’s good for my team. But right now, my own goals are not as important. It’s good to get a point tonight and it’s what we needed.”
Le Toux, who now has eight goals and eight assists on the season, has been humble about his personal success throughout his time in Philadelphia, but it’s hard to imagine where the Union would be without him.
Last year he finished with 14 goals and 11 assists to become a Best XI honoree, and this year he’s played every minute of every game to help keep the Union afloat, even with a recent rash of injuries.
No MLS player has more combined goals and assists over the past two seasons than Le Toux.
Of course, the Frenchman’s humility extended to crediting Friday’s goal almost entirely to teammate Michael Farfan, who kept the ball in bounds before serving it up to Le Toux in the box.
“Michael did a great job and gave me a platter,” Le Toux said. “If I missed, I would have to be really mad at himself.”
Pfeffer’s first road game
Less than a week after making his MLS debut, Philadelphia Union rookie Zach Pfeffer was called off the bench in the 62nd minute Friday to play in his first league road game.
It’s a credit to the 16-year-old’s growth that Union manager Peter Nowak is looking to him at such a critical juncture in the season.
“It’s another big game for him and you have to be ready,” Nowak said. “Whether he’s pushed off the ball or not, that’s still a kid that wants to learn, especially being in games like that.”
Pfeffer has indeed been pushed around a little bit in his first two MLS games, but he hasn’t looked overmatched and has provided a little bit of a spark for the Union (9-7-13) as they battle for a playoff spot. In fact, almost as soon as he entered Friday’s game, Philly scored the game-tying goal.
“Any time you get out on the field and get a chance to play, you enjoy it and it boosts your confidence,” Pfeffer said. “The more playing time you get, the more experience you get and for me I’m just feeling good. I’m trying to build off that and continue to work hard, so I can continue to play.”
Nowak’s thoughts on Sporting’s stadium
Nowak very much enjoyed his first trip to Livestrong Sporting Park, Kansas City’s $200 million soccer stadium that opened in June.
And as someone who's been around MLS for a while, the former Chicago Fire player said he was amazed at how far the league has come with the growth of new soccer-specific stadiums, including the one he calls home – PPL Park – outside Philadelphia.
“I applaud all the owners that put money in and make sure teams have the best possible opportunities to play in the best environment,” Nowak said. “I’m sure, sooner or later, most teams will have facilities like this. I’m very impressed with everything that’s going on.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org