Editor’s note: Over the next week, PSP contributors will be posting what we’re calling “raves” about some of our favorite Philadelphia players. They need not be the team’s best players, but they’re guys we like. You heard plenty of rants when they were losing. Here are the raves, starting with Adam’s about Sebastien Le Toux.
Who is your favorite Union player?
Anybody who doesn’t say Sebastian Le Toux is crazy. Anybody who says Chris Seitz is crazier, but that’s neither here nor there.
Sebastian Le Toux is going to set records this year. Twelve goals and ten assists in 23 games thus far. That’s direct contributions to 22 goals in 23 games played. Keep in mind, the Union have only scored 30 goals this season. Also keep in mind: The Union haven’t been all that good.
By comparison, 47-time MLS MVP Landon Donovan has contributed to 21 goals in 20 games played. That’s 21 out of 38 goals the Galaxy have scored. Donovan takes a lot of flak, but he has been the second best player in MLS this season.
If someone other than Sebastian Le Toux is your favorite player on the Union, you’re not watching the games. And this isn’t to take anything away from the rest of the team. Nearly every player on the roster (sorry, Toni Stahl) has made a meaningful contribution this season, but those same players have had dud games. And super-dud games. Only Sebastian Le Toux has earned the right to be your favorite player.
Maybe you disagree. Maybe Danny Mwanga piques your interest. You love his athletic ability, his finishing, his confidence. Le Toux has these and more.
Maybe you like Danny Califf. Strong and steady. A captain who always has his teammates’ backs (he stood by Seitz admirably/foolishly in his KYW/PSP interview). If Danny Califf is the heart of the Philadelphia Union, Sebastian Le Toux is the soul. He is that mysterious force that makes the muscles move. He is everywhere at once, and he’s always in the right place. Also: No stupid red cards.
And what about dealing with adversity? Remember, Le Toux has been paired with Alejandro Moreno up top. Moreno, incredibly, has taken only 17 shots in 22 matches. He has two goals and five assists. This is a striker we are talking about! Yet, somehow, Moreno has remained in the starting lineup. This has forced Le Toux out to the wing, where he plays a Messi role as a winger with few defensive responsibilities. Not that he doesn’t play defense—MVPs play defense.
So this is a striker-cum-winger who has been an offensive force while playing with Moreno and a rookie, and no discernible offensive midfielder between the time when Roger Torres was injured and Justin Mapp arrived (no, Fred doesn’t count and you know it). At this point, it’s fair to ask: How does Le Toux do it?
And now we get to the real rare meat, the bloody red heart of why Sebastian Le Toux is your favorite player. He has been the best player on the Union and in MLS by being the hardest working player in the league.
Even though it’s a city of microbrews, $11 burgers with gouda and a huge brunch scene, Philly still enjoys a blue collar, working class hero. And that’s what Le Toux is. He’s a guy that Andrew Jacobson calls the funniest guy on the team. He’s a guy that will play center mid, outside mid, attacking winger, striker. He takes corners and free kicks even though he shouldn’t, probably because he’s stubborn and because sometimes those ridiculous bouncing direct kicks go in (thanks, Chivas). He does a stupid arm-dance when he scores, even though Mwanga’s the one that makes it look cool. Sometimes, he tries to do too much. Chases lost causes or presses without support. That’s when all the youth coaches turn to their kids in the stands and say, “See? That was too much. But I’d rather see you do that than give less than 100%.” Nobody ever tells a kid to play less like Le Toux.
The Union has steady players like Miglioranzi, Orozco Fiscal, Eduard Coudet, Jordan Harvey and Andrew Jacobson. The Union has underdogs—Salinas, Okugo, Torres, McInerney—with supporters who recognize that they deserve more field time. The Union has supremely skilled players—Mapp, Mwanga—capable of opening up the talent spigot at key moments.
And the Union has Le Toux. The best player in the league. Not because he’s the most talented or because he plays on the best team. Not because he scores memorable extra time goals or because he was anointed as the Next Great Thing. Sebastian Le Toux saw the Philadelphia Union as his chance to play every day. When DC United came to Lincoln Financial Field and over 30,000 people took advantage of the opportunity to transfer their love of soccer to a local stage, they saw Sebastian Le Toux score a hat trick and take his chance.
Sebastian Le Toux is the MVP of MLS. And whether you admit it or not, he is your favorite player on the Philadelphia Union.