SmorgasBorg: Latest trades put "Philly" back in Union
In a world of sports clichés, we heard the obvious one targeted at the youth-driven Philadelphia Union: They are wet behind the ears. They need seasoning. They need veterans.
But Hackworth didn't just add a couple of names to merely bump up the average age of his starting lineup. Le Toux and Parke will help reestablish the all-important "team culture" which went through an identity crisis at PPL Park when the faces of the franchise left earlier this year.
Ex-manager Peter Nowak was the spirit and essentially the spokesman for the team before he was canned in June. He set the tone for the Union with his sideline scowl and his Eastern European steel, which fit like a glove with the hard-nosed grit of Philadelphia.
Le Toux, before he was surprisingly traded to Vancouver, embodied the high-pressure, hard-working spirit of the side on the pitch.
WATCH: Le Toux highlight reel
And Danny Mwanga, shipped out to Portland, was the centerpiece of the Union's youth movement which separated the club from others around the league.
So the unassuming Hackworth was left to pick up the pieces following all the upheaval and play the role of psychologist, working to inject a dose of confidence and belief into a program which was effectively derailed.
And Hackworth succeeded. Despite not making the playoffs in 2012, there was a distinct feeling that things were heading in the right direction in Philadelphia.
Now the offseason gives Hackworth the chance to take that next step, which is where this week's moves now come into play.
Le Toux, a former MLS All-Star, is heading into his fifth season in the league, but he enjoyed his most productive years while in a Union uniform during 2010 and 2011 (25 goals and 20 assists).
They created a @SadLandon account for LA Galaxy captain Landon Donovan while he ponders his future. But they should've also created a @SadSeba handle. The two trades in a year turned Le Toux's life upside-down and he says he never settled in at the Whitecaps or Red Bulls. He only ever had eyes for Philly. "I hope to stay here forever," the Frenchman says.
"I'm really proud to wear this color and this jersey and play for Philadelphia," Le Toux said at his press conference on Friday. "I think I was meant to be here. It's a team I love and a city [where] I love to live."
If Le Toux felt like that after two years in Philly, imagine what it's going to be like for Parke to go back home. The eight years spent playing in other cities across the US and Canada never took the "Philadelphia" out of Parke, who is arguably coming off his best season in MLS.
Some wondered how new head coach John Hackworth would do in the player acquisition market given his relatively limited experience. Turns out he didn't have to do much scouting and networking for his first two acquisitions.
Le Toux will slip right back into his preferred forward position playing off the shoulder of Jack McInerney (bye-bye attacking midfield hopes for Freddy Adu).
Meanwhile, Parke adds to a deep centerback corps that already features captain Carlos Valdés (will a Parke-Valdés pairing prove too slow in MLS?), the yet-to-be-fit Bakary Soumare and the revelation of 2012: midfielder-turned defender Amobi Okugo.
One is an adopted Philadelphian (Le Toux). The other is born-and-bred hardcore Philadelphian (Parke). But they both will feel just the same amount of pride playing inside PPL Park. The Union may be heading into only their fourth season, but they already have players who are ready to fight to the end for the jersey.
Now all Hackworth has to do is harness that pride and translate it into a playoff berth.