The road from expansion team to an MLS Cup championship is a process. The right mix of personnel needs to be compiled, and then chemistry must be formulated.
Ask the Union’s most dynamic offensive player and he’ll tell you that the club is on a very good path.
“I believe so,” Sebastien Le Toux told philadelphiaunion.com soon after the 2011 season came to a close. “I think we’ve made great improvement all around. I’m very excited about the future of the club. We made the playoffs and that was a great move forward for us. We’re all disappointed with how the season ended. We were confident we could win.”
In an expansion season in which the Union missed the playoffs, Le Toux was stellar with 14 goals and 11 assists.
This past season, the Frenchman had 11 goals and nine assists as the club earned a wild card bye and the No. 3 seed in the East. Le Toux finished tied for third in the league in combined goals and assists while pacing the Union in both categories.
Over the past two years combined, only Dwayne De Rosario has more combined goals and assists than Le Toux – 46 to 45.
“Sure, I’ve done some good things out there, but I’m most concerned with winning,” Le Toux said. “I was much happier this season because we took that step and made the playoffs. I was very proud of how we came together, fought through some times and got to the playoffs for the first time.
“We have that experience in the playoffs now, and we’ll want to do more in the future. I think our direction is just where we want it and we can move forward. I think all of us in this locker room are looking ahead to next season and the possibilities that exist.”
Le Toux was recently honored with the Xbox 360 Individual Fair Play Award for a second consecutive season. Le Toux has remarkably never received a yellow card, red card, or any discipline from Major League Soccer.
In 2011, Le Toux played the maximum 3,060 regular season minutes – the only field player in MLS to accomplish the feat.
“I think Seba is a player everybody can watch and follow his work ethic,” said forward Danny Mwanga. “He’s always playing hard and playing the proper way while being aggressive at the same time.”
That measured aggressiveness is part of what has cemented Le Toux as a star in Philadelphia.
When the ’12 season begins, Le Toux will be playing the same way: with heart, hustle, and a constant nose for the goal.
In the meantime, he’ll take a much-needed break over the next six weeks before preseason begins.
“I’ll probably go back home to France over the holidays and relax with family,” Le Toux said. “Other than that, I’ll be around just enjoying myself and getting prepared for next season. It’s nice to get away from soccer for a little bit and get mentally ready for another season. I like to take it easy and just relax. When it’s time for preseason training, I’ll be ready.
“We have a lot of promise and excitement with this franchise. I know that I’ll be 100 percent ready for the season and I’m very excited about where we’re headed.”