Sebastien Le Toux flashed a wide smile after glancing at the wide variety of Bimbo baked goods displayed behind him following a recent press conference at PPL Park to announce a lucrative four-year partnership.
“Hungry? Looks good, huh?” Le Toux joked before turning to the upcoming season.
The Union open their second Major League Soccer season March 19 at Houston. The club's first home game of 2011 will be played March 26 against the expansion Vancouver Whitecaps.
There’s much to do between now and then.
“I was in France for vacation, and I feel energized,” Le Toux said. “I’m excited and ready for our second season. We have so much potential. We have made some changes, and I feel bad seeing some of those guys go. But we have the potential to do so well this season. I see the playoffs as a very respectable goal for us to have. It’s about preparation and getting ready.”
Plucked in the expansion draft from Seattle, Le Toux started the All-Star Game against Manchester United, the first-ever Union player to represent the club in the midseason showcase.
Following the season, Le Toux was named to the 2010 MLS Best XI after accumulating 14 goals and 11 assists, the highest combined mark in the league. Le Toux set an MLS record for percentage involvement in his club’s goals with a 71.4 percent mark. He also won the MLS Individual Fair Play Award after going the entire season without receiving a card.
“We came a long way from the start of the season to the end,” Le Toux said. “I think, now that we’re in our second year, we’ve got more experience. We had to play all those games on the road last year while the stadium was being built. We had challenges as an expansion franchise. I think we handled everything well. Having had that experience, I think we’ll be more experienced in our second season.
“I think we’ve been through so much, and now we can focus on our team. Last year, we didn’t even know each other that well until we got together. Most of us have been together, and having spent time together, we’re more experienced. We have good camaraderie. I think everyone is very excited for this second season.”
Le Toux's tireless work ethic clearly rubbed off on other players in 2010, setting the tone for a side that could never be accused of lacking effort.
“I only know one way to play and train,” Le Toux said. “I believe in hard work. I think we have a team here with guys on the same page working together. If guys saw me working hard and took good things from it, then that makes me happy.”
Ultimately, the Union will be happy if they can reach the postseason in season No. 2.
“I think that’s a very realistic goal,” Le Toux said. “We have a confident team. We expect to have a very good season. We know the work that will go into it to make that happen. But I think if we can be consistent, we’ll get three points a lot and make a serious push for the playoffs. I think we all believe that.”