CHESTER, Pa. – As the Philadelphia Union prepare to return from the World Cup break with a tough road match against the New England Revolution on Saturday at Gillette Stadium (7:30 pm ET, MLS LIVE), they have a few reasons to be optimistic that the second half of the MLS season will be better than the first.
Perhaps chief among them is the sudden revival of the club’s all-time leading scorer, Sebastien Le Toux.
Over his last four games in all competitions, the Union winger has four goals and three assists in 236 minutes – an average of one goal or assist every 33.7 minutes, as compared to his rate of one goal or assist per 239 minutes the rest of the season.
Two of those goals came in the Union’s 2-1 win over the New York Cosmos in the US Open Cup Round of 16 on Tuesday, including the game-winning penalty kick in extra time. Le Toux is now tied for the all-time scoring lead in the modern era of the US Open Cup (1995-present) with 13 goals, and is currently 10-for-10 in his Union career from the penalty spot.
“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Union interim manager Jim Curtin said. “If you go back and look, he’s put some good games together.”
Le Toux has done more than just score for the Union. On June 17, the Frenchman came off the bench to provide two assists (and could have had a third on an Andrew Wenger goal listed as unassisted) in the Union’s first Open Cup victory, a come-from-behind 3-1 triumph over the Harrisburg City Islanders.
In the last two MLS games he played in before the World Cup break, Le Toux had a goal in the 3-3 draw with Vancouver on June 7 and a goal and an assist in a 5-3 loss to New England on May 17 – both after coming in as a late sub. During those two league games, Le Toux battled a back injury, which also caused him to miss two matches in between.
“I was not really at 100 percent,” Le Toux said. “I was playing with my back bothering me when I ran, so I took a few games coming off the bench, and now I feel much better. I’m close to 100 percent. I can see the field better, my touch is better and I can help the team better.”
The Union will likely need Le Toux to stay hot as they look to upset the second-place Revs, especially while striker Conor Casey deals with hamstring tightness that caused him to miss both Open Cup matches. The game is a big one for the Union, who will look to avenge last month’s 5-3 loss on Saturday in Curtin’s first league contest at the helm.
“We owe them one,” Philadelphia defender Sheanon Williams said. “We’ve been on a good string of results, and hopefully we can continue that. We know that we’re definitely a better team now than when we left at the break.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.