Being selected as an MLS All-Star for the first time was already quite an accomplishment for Sebastien Le Toux, who was left unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft just eight months ago.
To have an opportunity to start in the All-Star Game, however, came as a surprise and made the experience all the more special for the Union’s leading scorer.
“It was just this afternoon during the meeting with the team,” Le Toux said after the MLS All Stars’ 5-2 loss to Manchester United. “I knew (then) that I was going to start, it was a great surprise and I was very happy. Unfortunately we lost tonight, but it was very fun.
“It was great (to start) and I was very happy and I just tried to do my best on the field. We tried to play very open soccer and make good entertainment for the people who came tonight but it was a bit different because we never play together. I hope we did the best we can and next time maybe we can win.”
While no professional athlete wants to lose, the outcome is far from the only focus when the league’s best players come together in the middle of the season every year. Particularly when you have the honor of representing Philadelphia as the first-ever All-Star in the midst of the club’s inaugural season.
“Yeah, of course it was very special for me, and I try to do my best on the field,” Le Toux said. “I tried to play the same as I do (normally), but it was a bit hard because we don’t really know each other. We just played two days together and we just know each other from TV and all the games we play against each other. I was very proud to be the first Philadelphia All-Star and it was really nice for me but now it’s passed and I’m focusing on Saturday against New England.”
For Le Toux, spending time with fellow All-Stars and the overall experience of playing Manchester United in front of 70,728 fans was far more important than the final score.
“The whole (experience in Houston) was very nice, to be in contact with great players around the league and to (get to) know them better when usually we play against them,” he said. “To have time with them, it was nice. Of course the stadium was pretty big, very different than the one I used to play in in Seattle and in Philadelphia. It was a dome with 70,000 people and it’s not usual to play in front of that (many people).”
Immediately after the match, Le Toux was already thinking ahead to a far more important showdown, Saturday’s 3:30pm match against New England at PPL Park.
With 10 out of the club's 16 remaining league matches at home, the Frenchman understands that every point matters for an expansion side trying to force its way into the playoff picture.
“Of course we try to win all the games at home,” said Le Toux. “It’s the most important to continue to get points and more than in the first half (of the season). It’s the fifteenth game of the season (on Saturday) and the most important thing is to continue the good roll we’ve had for two weeks.
“At home a win would be huge for the standings. It’ll be a nice game and I’m going to be prepared and ready. I’m not really tired so I’ll be fine for the game.”
While Le Toux’s club-first mentality won’t come as a surprise to anyone who knows the type of player and person he is, it’s hard to blame him for reveling in the moment just a little. After all, it wasn’t long ago that he was battling for minutes in Seattle.
In Philadelphia, with increased freedom to both attack and track back behind the ball at will, Le Toux has blossomed into one of MLS’ brightest stars. Starting in the All-Star Game simply confirmed the quality that is apparent every time he steps on the pitch.
“It was a great experience and hopefully it’s going to continue for me and I’ll continue to make progress,” Le Toux said before leaving Reliant Stadium. “I was really surprised to be here but it was nice. Now I will try to win more games with Philadelphia.”