If you’re a fan on the Philadelphia Union, even if just recently, chances are that you know who Sebastien Le Toux is.
Le Toux was with the Union when they first started in 2010, being used as a starter in the inaugural squad. In that same year, Le Toux scored the franchise’s first ever goal and then the franchise’s first ever hat-trick in the Union’s home opener.
After forever engraving himself in Union history, Le Toux went on to become the first MLS All-Star in Union history, tallying 14 goals and 11 assists in the club’s first season.
Le Toux was eventually traded away in 2012 and played for the Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the New York Red Bulls before making his way back to the Union in 2013.
But let’s rewind a little bit and talk about how the earlier parts of Le Toux’s playing career are still having an effect on how he approaches the game now.
Le Toux’s earliest soccer memories can be traced back to his home country of France.
“My first memories are playing in the backyard with my older brother,” Le Toux said. “I always had to play goalkeeper because I was the youngest.”
This trend continued until Le Toux started to play organized soccer when he was 8, playing with other kids in his age group who were from the same town as him. When he was around the age of 12, Le Toux and his family saw that he was one of the best on his team and was tested to try out for a soccer school in Rennes.
Le Toux made it into the soccer school, which he attended until he was 16 years old.
“During my time at the school, I was still playing for my small club in my small town,” said Le Toux. “Most of the kids who went to the school played for the big club, which was Rennes. They asked to try out for the team, which I did the next year, and I made it and began playing for the club.”
After staying in the Rennes youth system until he was 20, Le Toux moved over to FC Lorient, another team from the region that at the time was in the second division of French soccer.
“I played for Lorient for two years but when my contract ended I decided to go try to play in the United States,” Le Toux said. “I didn’t have any contract offers in France because a lot of teams were unwilling to sign me due to an ankle injury that I suffered earlier that season. I ended up trying out for a few MLS teams and I really liked it and they wanted me back so it was a good fit.”
Up until this point, Le Toux didn’t have an assigned position, he was just a player who worked hard and played wherever the team needed it. In his first foray into professional soccer, he was signed as a right back due to his defensive familiarity and his ability to play up on the wing as well.
“Even though I played that position for two years, it wasn’t really for me,” said Le Toux. “That is why when I came to the U.S., I told them I could play anywhere. One of the coaches for the Seattle Sounders asked me to play forward and so I did. I scored goals and it worked well for me so I stayed at that position.”
Le Toux is now in his eighth year as an MLS player. And though he has played forward for the past few years, Le Toux has now been moved down to play as a right midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
“It’s a bit more running, and certainly a bit more defensive.” Le Toux said. “It’s quite different because you always have to listen to your right back and make sure you always cover and things like that. It doesn’t always give me the freedom that I love to have but we try to find the best combination of guys to win and that works with me on the right side.”
And despite being viewed as a veteran and a leader in the locker room, Le Toux scoffed at the idea of being old.
“I mean, I don’t really feel that I’m old because I still feel pretty young,” Le Toux said, laughing. “I’m probably the fourth or fifth oldest on the team right now.”
While he feels young, Le Toux knows that it’s his job to help out some of the new, younger guys on the team as they adjust to the lifestyle of a professional.
“You can’t always guide them step-by-step but you can talk to them and try to show them the right path to take,” said Le Toux. “I try to lead by example and try to walk out of practice and progress on my own so they can see that even if you’re old, you can still learn.”
In a season where the team has gone through some tough moments, Le Toux has had to work harder than ever to keep the team morale up. He has shown the younger guys that sometimes you have to be willing to adapt to advance, and that the team goes first. When the team sees how hard Le Toux works on the right side, playing out of position, it makes the rest of them want to match his intensity.
“I’m just happy to do what I do,” Le Toux said. “I know I’m lucky to do it and I hope to continue to do it for a long, long time.”
Contact Union writer Kyle Basedow as firstname.lastname@example.org.