After leading Major League Soccer in offensive productivity and shattering the record for involvement in his club’s goals, Sebastien Le Toux isn’t even a medal winner in the MVP race. It seems almost cruel, but perhaps it shouldn’t be all that surprising. After all, never before has a non-playoff team in MLS produced an MVP winner.
This time it felt different. Not only did Le Toux have the numbers, but he had all of the intangibles. The heart. The ceaseless hustle and determination. The ability to stay humble and appreciative of the fans throughout his meteoric rise to stardom. The 26-year-old won’t officially be named MVP of the league, but he sure is in the minds of every Union fan.
It’s only natural for Le Toux to be disappointed. He did everything possible to earn the award. Not that Edson Buddle, Chris Wondolowski and David Ferreira aren't deserving recipients, but no one meant more to his club than Le Toux. No, it wasn’t enough to vault Philadelphia into the MLS Cup Playoffs, but Philadelphia's favorite Frenchman was simply indispensable.
“I was, of course, a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t a finalist, but it’s like the aftermath,” he told philadelphiaunion.com after training on Friday. “It’s just one thing and I have to do better to be MVP now.”
Doing better won’t be easy. Le Toux did it all in 2010, and then some. If you ask him, though, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in his game.
“A lot,” he insisted. “If I am going to watch all of my games, and I already did, I can see that I missed a lot of chances this year. I can of course score more goals and do better on my game offensively, making more assists. So, I am going to work on that and try to have better numbers next year.”
Compiling more than 14 goals and 11 assists will certainly be a challenge. Le Toux put up MVP caliber numbers, falling victim only to his club’s position in the standings.
Did Le Toux himself think he deserved postseason hardware (and not for fair play, for which he is still in contention)?
“I don’t know,” he said. “Obviously I’m on the field, not the person who judges from the sideline. I’ll just do the best I can do on the field. I had good assists and goals this year and it was good for me.
“I can understand (not being voted MVP) because we didn’t make the playoffs this year, so it makes it a little bit easier for those guys who did make the playoffs because they helped their teams the best they can.”
Still in the running for the league’s Best XI squad, Le Toux appears more focused on the future than being left out of the final MVP discussion. His ambitions for a Philadelphia side poised to take the next step in 2011 are crystal clear.
“To make the playoffs, of course, and then once we are in the playoffs it is to win the championship,” said Le Toux. “First it would be to have more points and make the playoffs at the end of next season, of course.”
If the Union can make the leap to a playoff team next season, you can bet it will be Le Toux leading the way.
MVP or not.