Once reluctant, now resplendent Sebastien Le Toux thrives in midfield for Philadelphia Union
CHESTER, Pa. – During his first stint with the Philadelphia Union, Sébastien Le Toux made it clear that he did not want to play in the midfield.
This season, as his assist numbers have changed, so has his tune.
Playing on the right side of the midfield in Wednesday’s 3-0 rout of the Columbus Crew, Le Toux picked up two more assists to take the league lead with six on the season.
“It’s a good spot for me right now to contribute offensively,” Le Toux said. “Maybe it’s not as a forward but we all knew I could play this position.”
Le Toux has indeed played in the midfield at times during his MLS career. But while with the Union in 2010 and 2011, the Frenchman said publicly that he thought he was best-served as a striker, where he netted 25 goals over the two seasons.
But now, with Jack McInerney assuming Le Toux’s old role as the team’s top goalscorer and veteran Conor Casey serving as a good complement to him up top, Le Toux has shuffled between forward and midfield since being reacquired by Philly prior to the start of the 2013 season.
“He’s the ultimate team player,” Union captain Brian Carroll said. “He does what he needs to help the team. He’s finding a way to get results both individually and for the team with his style of play. And it’s been great to see.”
When he’s out on the wing, Le Toux has been arguably the club’s best player to deliver crosses and set pieces. He showed that on Wednesday night when his driven cross found the head of Casey for Philly’s third goal (above), just moments after his corner kick led to a goal from Sheanon Williams that put the Union up 2-0.
“He’s putting balls in dangerous spots, he’s whipping them in hard, he’s picking out people,” Carroll said. “He’s really been tremendous. And hopefully that continues. He put in a lot of good effort down the line tonight both offensively and defensively. I’m sure he’s gassed but he did great for us.”
Union manager John Hackworth said he opted to start Le Toux out wide with Casey and McInerney up top because he “wanted to be a little more attacking and have a good balance on both sides of the midfield.”
At times this season, Hackworth has also tried starting all three together at striker, which hasn’t worked as well. Luckily, Le Toux seems perfectly happy to accept his new role on the outside of the field and let McInerney and Casey do most of the scoring.
“Maybe it’s better for me to give crosses to them,” Le Toux said. “It’s working right now and hopefully it continues.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.