The first MLS All-Star in Union history, Sebastien Le Toux, was traded to the Whitecaps on Tuesday for allocation money.
Le Toux's lasting impact in Philadelphia is undeniable. "Seba" leaves the Union as the franchise leader in 11 different categories.
Games played: 62
Minutes played: 5,580
Shots on Goal: 78
Game-winning foals: 5
Penalty kick goals: 8
Multi-goal games: 4
Hat tricks: 1
Two-goal games: 4
Le Toux scored the first goal in franchise history, the first Union goal at PPL Park, and the team's first-ever playoff goal in November.
Le Toux's hat trick against DC United in April 2010 was an iconic moment in franchise history. Le Toux put his name on the map after scoring on a header, a counterattack, and a free kick.
"He was very recognized and associated with our franchise," said Nowak. "That's no secret to anybody. He represented our club in a very good way, there's (no question) about that at all."
Le Toux's departure
Le Toux recently went on trial with Bolton Wanderers, but an offer was never made by the English Premier League side.
"It was no secret that the Bolton offer did not go through," manager Peter Nowak said on a media conference call following Tuesday's announcement. "Vancouver made a very strong approach, and we as a team, as a coaching staff, and also the [ownership], analyzed the whole situation and we accepted the offer."
The allocation money enabled the Union to secure the transfer of 20-year-old midfielder Roger Torres, previously on loan from Colombian side América de Cali. Nowak added that the team is working on a new contract with Sheanon Williams, who has emerged as one of the league's top right backs, as well as other player transactions.
"We want to invest, or reinvest the resources we have, in the players that we believe will be with the team for the future," explained Nowak. "We have a couple of guys on the roster who we want to improve their contracts because they still have contracts from the past years and they are not financially strong. But they contribute to the team, so we wanted to reward those players as well. One is Sheanon Williams. That's the part that we want to continue to improve, and keep those guys for a couple of more years."
Le Toux's role
Nowak stated during Tuesday's conference call that the decision to trade Le Toux was not determined by specific tactics.
Le Toux told media members last season that he favored playing at the top of the Union formation. The Frenchman scored the majority of his goals in 2011 in the late summer and early fall, deployed as a lone striker in a 4-5-1 shape. He also played up top in different looking formations with strike partners Carlos Ruiz and Danny Mwanga, but was not as statistically productive in those setups. Le Toux played fewer minutes on the wing in 2011, but spent a lot of time on the flanks in 2010. He was successful running off of target man Alejandro Moreno, and scored a majority of his 14 goals as a right-sided winger.
"No, [the trade] has nothing to do with this," he said when asked about Le Toux's preference for playing as a true forward, rather than a winger.
Le Toux off the field
Le Toux was sometimes the last player to show up for post-game interviews after a home win. Reason being, he was usually signing autographs or speaking with fans in the corridor beneath the River End. Le Toux would often enter the locker room carrying gifts that were given to him by the fans – cards or pieces of artwork, sometimes posters or other handmade items. He'd stash them in his locker, then bring them back to his house.
Le Toux understood the city of Philadelphia. His hustle, attitude and work-rate made him a fan favorite at PPL Park. He's not dissimilar from Eagles great Brian Dawkins, who never won a title, but gave it his all during every single game. And he's not dissimilar from Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who shrugged off a slump in 2009 to once again show fans why he was the World Series MVP in 2008.
Le Toux understood Philadelphia, and Philadelphia fans, and that's why he will always have the respect of the Union faithful.