After nearly half a year in pursuit, the Vancouver Whitecaps finally have their man in Sébastien Le Toux.
“Truth be known, we had inquired about Sébastien last year – halfway through the season,” Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told reporters during a conference call on Tuesday. “At that time, there was really no interest on Philadelphia’s part to move him, and obviously by expressing an interest when it came up recently we were, I’m assuming, one of the first calls that they made, and we’ve been chatting back and forth during that time.”
That dialogue culminated with the Frenchman officially joining the ‘Caps on Tuesday from the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money. He’s a player many in Vancouver will be familiar with from his time as a striker with the USL version of the Seattle Sounders.
“I’m familiar with him for not necessarily great memories,” Lenarduzzi quipped. “He scored a lot of goals against the Whitecaps and he scored a lot of goals in USL. But it’s been interesting to see his evolution from the time he was in USL and moved on and was Seattle’s first signing in MLS.”
The Whitecaps hope Le Toux, 28, can form an intimidating strike pairing with countryman Eric Hassli. He scored 25 goals over his past two seasons with Philadelphia, and also added 20 assists over the same period.
“Sébastien’s goal-scoring production is something that excites us, but probably more importantly it’s the style of player that he is,” Lenarduzzi said. “At this point, he can form a tandem with a player like Eric Hassli that both have unique qualities. Together we think they’re going to be a pretty good partnership up front and cause defenses some problems.”
While talented, Le Toux also brings a workmanlike attitude to the team, a quality not often found among prolific goal scorers. He was the only field player in the league to play every minute of the 2011 season.
“His work rate for a forward is second to none,” Lenarduzzi said. “When his team loses the ball, he’s always willing to put in the extra work to get it back, and that’s not normally something you associate with a forward that scores goals – they’re there to score goals. But if you can match that up with a great work rate, then you really have the all-round product from a strike position.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.