December 7, 2012
Le Toux on his Union return: 'The only team I wanted to play for was Philadelphia'
CHESTER, Pa. -- If he needed to be reminded how much the Philadelphia Union fans wanted Sebastien Le Toux back on the team, coach John Hackworth got the message after the club's season finale in October. The Union players and Hackworth walked around PPL Park talking to the fans after a loss to the Red Bulls.
|Sebastien Le Toux: "I have stars in my eyes. I am so happy to be back here. When you are somewhere, it's meant to be, and I'm meant to be here."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
"It was fantastic," Hackworth said. "It was amazing to me how many fans were begging me to bring Sebastien back for next year. Something we already had in the works. You read things, but to have the fans right then, that was the main message I was getting. Pretty good that he is back, sitting here with us."
Le Toux was sitting in the middle of of the podium, with Union CEO and president Nick Sakiewicz on his right and Hackworth on his left a day after the trade that sent him back to the Union. Philadelphia dealt Costa Rican forward Joshue Martinez and allocation money to the Red Bulls.
Le Toux, the Union's all-time goal-scorer after two memorable seasons (2010 and 2011) before he was traded away to the Vancouver Whitecaps before the 2012 campaign, made it known how much he was back home.
"The only team I wanted to play for was Philadelphia," he said during a press conference at the stadium.
In fact, he sounded destined to play for the Union.
"I have stars in my eyes," he said. "I am so happy to be back here. When you are somewhere, it's meant to be, and I'm meant to be here."
The feeling was mutual from the Union, which did not announce the length or terms of Le Toux's contract.
"Our intention is to have Sebastien here for a long time and not to wear another MLS jersey in this league," Sakiewicz said. "He has a new contract. We are just proud to have him."
Le Toux, who turns 29 on Jan. 10, endured a disappointing, short tenure with the Red Bulls, recording only one goal and one assist in nine starts over 14 games.
"I want to say thanks to New York," he said. "Even though it was a hard situation, they helped me [return to Philadelphia]."
When the Red Bulls acquired Le Toux for Jamaican international Dane Richards on July 15, Hackworth had an inkling that his tenure in New York would be a small one and that perhaps the Frenchman could return to the Union.
"They were doing that to try to get their position to make a run for the championship," he said. "It didn't look like a long term move to me. That's when we started thinking in the back of our heads this is a possibility. But obviously there were so many things that had to happen between that first time."
Le Toux's return will allow Hackworth to do more with the attack.
"His work ethic, but his speed," he said. "He can close down spaces as quick as any player in this league. At the same time, his ability to stretch a defense when we have the ball is really important. The most important thing he has done for the Philadelphia Union is put the ball into the back of the net. So we want to take all of those attributes and mix them into our team.
"We know right away that with the character he has show here already, his ability on the field, that we're a better team."
As a three-year MLS veteran, Le Toux will be expected to be a leader, even a mentor to the younger Union forwards.
"I don't think I'm old," he said. "I know I can still run a lot during a long year. I am looking forward to be a mentor -- is a big word -- but a leader by example. I know it was what I used to do when I was here. I know the team, I know the people who work here. I know the mentality the coaching staff wants to put in this team with the young guys.
"I will try to help my best all of them and try to make the team successful. That is my priority when I came here. It's just to come back as a winning team. Being one of the oldest on the team, I know there is a lot of expectations for me to do this role and being example. I'm just proud to be this type of player next year."
The Union will hold a welcome back gathering for Le Toux at Kildaire’s in West Chester, Pa.at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.