BLOEMFONTEIN, June 22, 2010 France's Thierry Henry gestures during the Group A match between France and South Africa at the 2010 World Cup football match in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on June 22, 2010. France lost the match 1-2.

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s been a strong Gallic accent present in Major League Soccer recently. Philadelphia’s Sebastien Le Toux has been ripping apart defenses, charging up the scoring table, and recently made the all-star roster. At the same time, a team in New Jersey is trying to buy legitimacy and win over a famously eurosnobbish fanbase by signing superstar Thierry Henry.

Henry and Le Toux have followed two very different paths to Major League Soccer. Henry, all-time leading scorer for Arsenal and the French national team, has won just about everything you can win at every level. The list of his gongs and cups reads like someone has had a bit too much time on Championship manager.

With Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, and Barcelona, Henry won 1 World Cup, 1 European Championship, 1 Confederations Cup, 1 Ligue 1 Title, 2 Premiership Titles, 3 FA Cups, 2 La Liga Titles, 1 Copa Del Rey, 1 Champions League Title, 1 European Super Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Championship. Add in his ridiculously long list of individual awards, and begin to get an idea of just how respected and talented Henry was in his prime.

A product of the legendary Clairefontaine youth academy, Henry developed into a talented winger at Monaco. In 1999, Henry was bought by Italian giants Juventus but stagnated in the rigorous tactics of Serie A. Just eight months after signing with Juventus, Henry was reunited with his manager at Monaco, Arsene Wenger, who had taken charge at Arsenal. Under Wenger’s tutelage, Henry blossomed into one of the finest players in the history of the game. After seven glory-filled seasons with the North London side, where he had risen to the post of club captain, Henry was sold to Spanish team FC Barcelona. After three seasons with Barcelona, Henry found himself out of favor due to the emergence of younger stars, and moved to MLS side New York Red Bulls following the 2010 World Cup.

Le Toux, on the other hand, had a much more modest route to America’s top division. He came through the youth system at Stade Rennes, and spent a brief spell with Ligue 2 side FC Lorient before crossing the Atlantic. After an unsuccessful trial with FC Dallas, Le Toux signed with the Seattle Sounders, then playing in USL.

It was in the Flanel City that Le Toux made his mark, and his name. His trademark style (Dangerous pace, great touch, 90 minutes of suicidal running everywhere, scoring, assisting, general brilliance) won him many fans and cult hero status as he scored 24 goals in 54 games in USL. It was no shock then, when the Sounders made him their very first signing for their move to MLS.

After a frustrating first MLS season with the Sounders, often used as a substitute or out of position (although he did have the winning assist in the 2009 US Open Cup Final), Le Toux was left unprotected in the 2009 MLS expansion draft and picked up by Philadelphia Union manager Peter Nowak to spearhead the Union attack.

In his few months with the Union, Le Toux has rediscovered and surpassed the form that made him such a favorite in Seattle. In just 12 games, he’s found the net a team-leading 7 times, and created as many assists. His contributions are even more impressive in context; The Union is, on average, the youngest team in the league, and an expansion side still finding its feet.

Despite the fact that they play for rival teams, Le Toux, who was just 14 when Henry was part of France’s World Cup winning side in 1998, is excited at the prospect of seeing his compatriot strutting his stuff in MLS. He recently told “He is one of the best French strikers of all-time, and for me it’s really nice to see him come here.”

For now though, the title of “Best Frenchman in MLS” is up for grabs.
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