And all was right in the world; The Sebastien LeToux Story
So by now you’ve probably heard about the big trade that happened this week.
You know, the one where the leading goal scorer in Union history, who was booted out of town by an evil super villain of a coach, returns to his favorite place on Earth?
Well, if you don’t know by now what I’m talking about….LETOUX IS BACK!!!!!
This may or may not be a move you are excited about. If you have your doubts, make sure you check out Eugene’s take on what he sees as a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Trade.” For the time being though, let’s be a bit more positive.
First and foremost, let’s look at the on-field impact the trade will have.
LeToux is the leading scorer in Union history. His 25 goals is more than the combined total of McInerney and Mwanga, both tied in second with 12 goals. Beyond those two there are no other double digit scorers and Freddy Adu is number 4 on the list with 7. The next active Union players are Hoppenot (4), and Torres, Valdes and Marfan (all with 3).
The frenchman is also the assist leader. Just like in goals, his 20 stands as double that of the second leader, Torres, who has 10. Going down the list reads Mwanga (9), Marfan (8), Mapp (8), and Moreno (7). So of those, only Marfan is seeing minutes with the Union so of late.
Shots is a third statistical category that LeToux leads with Marfan logging 77 and Mwanga 69 to round out the top 3. LeToux can also be found in the top 5 in minutes, games played, and games started for the Union. Needless to say he is a player that has been very involved in the games the Union have played.
Even in a season where his life was completely up in the air going from Philadelphia to Vancouver to New York, LeToux managed 5 goals. On the 2012 Philadelphia Union that would have put him second among players still with the team. The most personally hectic year for LeToux mustered the same amount of goals as the most consistent personal year for Freddy Adu. Just to put a little perspective on 2012.
With the emergence of Jack McInerney as a legit MLS forward it should force John Hackworth into switching from a 4-3-3 (really a 4-5-1) to one playing two central forwards. The fact that Martinez, who played mostly on the wings for the Union, was shipped to New York in the deal helps the idea that there won’t be much of a 4-3-3 in 2013.
The Union have been searching from day one for a partnership up top. In 2010 it was LeToux and Moreno or Mwnaga. In 2011 it was a combination of LeToux, Ruiz, and Mwanga. This past season it was mostly Pajoy up top by himself and then a combination of McInerney and Hoppenot either by themselves or in a 3 man forward line.
This may be the best opportunity (depending on your opinion of Ruiz) for the Union to find a partnership that will finally pay off with two players scoring in double figures. If LeToux can find the form that made him so loved in this city and McInerney can continue his 2012 form into 2013 this could be an exciting partnership to watch.
The move should also pay off on the training pitch. If there is any work ethic any of us would like to rub off on our young forwards, it would be that of LeToux. His tireless runs that have become a trademark of the French forward are something Hoppenot and Hoffman, as well as McInerney, can learn from. LeToux goes about the game the right way and will guide the young guns through day to day life as a professional.
A question still remains of how good will LeToux be upon his return to the blue and gold. There is a professional approach to any work place that says if employees are happy they will produce the highest quality work. There has been no secret that Philadelphia is where LeToux has wanted to be. Sometimes you never know how good you have it until you are gone and LeToux getting a second chance at life in Philadelphia should mean the best of the Frenchmen is yet to come.
There is also a huge off-field component to this trade that has very little to do with LeToux himself. As much of a roller coaster as fans have been through with on-field results, the up and down nature of the front office and coaching staff have been far worse.
The trade/transfer policy of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was a giant black eye for the franchise. After the very public and ugly exits of two fan favorites in Danny Califf and Sebastien LeToux, it was no surprise why so few players brought in were MLS veterans.
Who in their right mind would have wanted to come play here?
This move to bring back one of those players should do wonders for the image of the franchise around the players circles. LeToux will be a great ambassador for the franchise and showing this is a great desitination for players.
The move also mends fences much closer to home. No matter who you talk to around PPL LeToux will be among their favorite players to ever wear the blue and gold. Ask a founding member of the Sons of Ben, a mother with a squad of youth soccer players, or any casual fan that has ventured to Chester for a game and they will all have great things to say about the Frenchman’s first two years in Philly.
Also, don’t hold it against the front office for having to trade to get LeToux. Thanks to the crazy rules on out-of-contract players there is no guarantee that the Union would have been able to even discuss signing him. The only way to make sure that the situation ended the way both the Union and LeToux wanted it to was to have him reseign with New York and work out a deal with New York.
In no way am I saying that this move solves all of the issues that plagued the team in 2012, but it sure seems like they are moving in the right direction. The Union were able to ensure, very early in the offseason, that they had upgraded the striker position. In the same 24 hour span they also announced an upgrade at the center back position with the signing of Jeff Parke. The front office still has the re-entry draft second round, SuperDraft, supplemental draft, and international transfer window to continue improving the team. If these two moves are any indication of the plans for the next three to four months, Union fans should be pretty excited about what the team could look like for First Kick 2013.