J'Accuse (Part Toux)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010 | View Comments

Yesterday, shortly before 4 PM Eastern Time, MLS named names.

11 of them.

A celebrated, honored collection of players, excellent footballers to a man, comprising the “First XI” of the 2010 All-Star Game. But tragically absent from their number was an unassuming Frenchman who has been in electric form this season. Cast off by last year’s expansion team, he has found a home with, and a special place in the heart of, this year’s MLS new boys. And though he thoroughly deserves to be counted amongst this elite corps of players, his name, exalted on both coasts of this nation, was not named.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Sebastien Le Toux was snubbed.

The argument for his inclusion goes beyond throwing the new kids a bone. It is not about marketing a new team, or creating parity between conferences. The simple fact is, Seba Le Toux has been one of the most effective players in the league this season.

In the course of the 990 minutes he has played for the Union, he’s scored six goals and tallied six assists. Only two other players in the league have created as much offense, Edson Buddle (10 goals, 2 assists in 11 games) and Fredy Montero (6 goals, 6 assists in 16 games). His production is made even more impressive by the fact that the Union, who sit last overall in Major League Soccer, have played the fewest matches of any MLS team.

His importance to the Union cannot be underestimated. He’s the main attacking threat, as evidenced by his league-leading 23 shots on goal and tied-for-team-lead six goals. A full 75% of Philadelphia’s goals directly involved him. By comparison, Edson Buddle was involved in 48% of LA’s, Dwaybe De Rosario in 64.7% of Toronto’s and Marco Pappa in 55.5% of Chicago’s.

His work rate, prodigious for a midfielder but ridiculously lung-bursting for a striker, makes him incredibly difficult to mark, and is a godsend for the other Union attackers; it’s no coincidence that alongside Le Toux, rookie Danny Mwanga has picked up 5 goals and 2 assists in just 506 minutes of play.

Few players use their time on the field as effectively as Le Toux does. He creates a goal or assist every 82.5 minutes. Only Danny Mwanga (72.82) and Edson Buddle (75.75) have a higher minutes-to-offense ratio. Attacking players who made the 11 with worse numbers include Landon Donovan (88.1), Dwayne De Rosario (93.9), Javier Morales (103.9), Marco Pappa (114.5) and Guillermo Barros Schelotto (129.63).

Le Toux’s success is even more remarkable considering his situation. Philadelphia, as an expansion team, had only a few short months together to prepare for the 2010 season. Being new, many of the players were second-hand, considered expendable by other clubs, and several were fresh-faced rookies without a professional minute to their names. Coming into the 2010 season, only 5 of the 22 Union players currently on the roster had ever played at least 50 top flight games. It’s hardly a surprise they find themselves propping up the table.

And yet despite the turmoil that always surrounds an expansion club, Le Toux has thrived. Unlike Edson Buddle or Javier Morales, he doesn’t have an experienced partner like Landon Donovan or Alvaro Saborio to carry his slack. Alejandro Moreno is a fine water-carrier, but he’s yet to score in Union colors. Danny Mwanga may be showing signs of developing into an elite player, but he’s still just a teenager, and shouldn’t yet be relied on to shoulder the burden of a team’s offensive output.

It seems ridiculous and outrageous to me that a player could put up such stellar stats in a team still trying to find itself and be ignored for the first XI. It’s a crime against soccer. Of course, you’ll never hear Sebastien Le Toux complain about it. That’s just not his style.
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