Forward thinking: Union’s Le Toux thriving in new role
The mark of a great coach is making adjustments that elevate a team’s success. One of the ways Union manager John Hackworth did that was by switching Sebastien Le Toux, a career forward, to midfield.
The move has worked wonders for Le Toux and the Union as he leads MLS in assists (six) and the team sits in third place in the Eastern Conference at 6-5-4.
“I’m not really looking at that because it’s just a stat,” said Le Toux, of leading the league in assists. “What I’m looking for is our team to win games and be atop of the standings, and get to the playoffs. It’s a nice honor though that I’m proud of and it shows that I’m doing my job well.”
In the Union’s last game against the Columbus Crew, Le Toux dished out two assists in a 3-0 victory. He said the adjustment from forward to midfield hasn’t been too hard.
“It’s not too different for me playing right midfielder compared to forward,” he said. “I’m more comfortable playing forward, but I played some midfield previously and I knew I could do it. I knew that the team needed me and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win. It’s worked out for me so far.”
The Union are set to face the New York Red Bulls (7-5-4) on Sunday at 5 p.m. Last season, Le Toux played briefly with the Red Bulls after a trade from the Vancouver Whitecaps. He teamed up with one of his French soccer idols — and an all-time great — Thierry Henry.
“I followed him all throughout his career with Arsenal, Barcelona and the French national team so, for me, it was a fantastic experience to play with him and get to know him outside of the team,” said Le Toux on playing with Henry. “I realized playing with him why he was so successful throughout his career. He’s obviously very talented and good at soccer, but that’s from all the work he puts in at practice, and how he deals with all the pressure surrounding him. He’s brilliant.”
Le Toux is excited to face his former team and expects a good game, one that will be in the national spotlight on ESPN.
“I think it’s great for us to be on national TV,” Le Toux said. “It’s great for the organization because it brings the league and its fans’ focus to Philadelphia, and it’s always a great game between us and New York. We know we have to go out and get these three points at home, and we know that if we win we’ll be in second [in the Eastern Conference]. If we can keep things up, we’ll be in very good position come playoff time, so it’s going to be a very, very big game for us.”