CHESTER, Pa. – In the Philadelphia Union’s inaugural campaign last year, Sebastien Le Toux averaged a goal or an assist every 100 minutes.
Through five games this season, despite playing all 450 minutes, the Frenchman is on a far slower pace, having logged just one assist and zero goals.
And that’s just fine by him.
“Last year I proved I can score goals for this team,” Le Toux told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not a question. I can do good stuff on the field. But my biggest concern now, because I’m a leader, is to put this team on top.”
And that, he has done. The Union (3-1-1) currently sit in second place in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand over the first-place Red Bulls.
Unlike last season, when Philly sputtered to an 8-15-7 overall record, this team is finding ways to win, even as Le Toux and the offense have struggled to find the back of the net.
“Of course, you want to score goals,” Le Toux admitted. “But at the end of the day, I look at the score at the end. When we win, I’m happy about that. I know my responsibility as a leader of this team is to bring more winning than we did last year.”
Le Toux is not only a leader on this team; he’s also the face of the franchise. That was made clear when he played a direct role in all but 10 of the club’s 35 goals last season, all while running, sliding and hustling all over the field – and always smiling when he was off it.
But, Le Toux maintains, he’d rather be the face of a more balanced franchise – one that doesn’t rely so heavily upon him.
So far this season, Roger Torres and Danny Califf have scored their first goals in Philly while newcomer Carlos Ruiz has netted the club’s other two goals.
“Everyone talked about me last year because I was scoring goals,” Le Toux said. “It’s better to talk about the whole team than just me. … Last year, it was just me and Danny Mwanga scoring. It’s nice to see Roger and Danny Califf and Carlos score.
“It shows other people can score goals and it’s just not just me,” he added. “It’s the whole team together.”
Still, that doesn’t mean people haven’t asked him about his lack of offensive production so far this season. He hears it all the time, and he usually says the same thing in response.
“People ask me about not scoring goals,” Le Toux said. “I just tell them about the standings.”
He also sometimes reminds them that it won’t be long until he breaks the season-long scoring drought. Perhaps, he recently said, his first goal will be followed by two more in the same game – which is how he introduced himself to Philly fans in last year’s home opener.
“It will happen,” Le Toux predicted with a smile. “And it will be a good time for me to score.”