For a few months this past spring and summer, he alone was the face of Sounders FC. Sebastien Le Toux had the honor of being the first player to sign. He now has some company, 13 teammates, to be exact. Known for his speed, stamina and skill, Le Toux arrived in Seattle as a defender but was soon pushed up front, where he flourished. He was voted MVP of USL-1 as a rookie, and scored a total of 34 league and cup goals in two seasons. He’s come a long way, but believes there’s still much to do as he lives out his dream.
You’ve scored goals sometimes on sheer determination, by virtue of your hard work or pressing defenders in their own end. Where does that come from?
I think it comes from my ability to run a lot. I make lots of effort. I try to play to my strengths. I try to put lots of pressure on the defender because I know if I do, maybe their pass won’t be so good, and maybe it will go to my teammates so we can quickly counterattack and score. It’s something I used to do in France, when I was more of a defender. Now I play forward but it’s still what I try to do because I know it’s hard when you’re a defender under pressure to give a good ball to your midfielder or forward.
When you signed you were the first player and had an idea of what the club would become at that time. Now, what are your thoughts on what this club will become?
When I signed, I knew it was a project, this club. I knew it would be possible to be a very good club, to win a championship. I knew we would be a good team at the beginning, not just playing but going for wins. By staying here I could be with a good team that would try to win. I knew the club wanted to do something very good for the city and the fans. Knowing that, I am very happy to stay and become a part of this new team.
What do you like about the Seattle area now that you have lived here for a year?
It is a very beautiful area. It’s all here, the mountains, very nice nature, a very big city, but near the sea, the Sound and lots of lakes. We can do everything here. We can relax. It’s what I want, what I need. I live on Whidbey Island. It’s very calm and relaxed there. I like the city too, but the island is more like my spirit. I like the beauty of it.
Because you sustained a knock on your knee in the first match, you watched more than you played during the USL Sounders trip to Argentina. So, from a spectator’s viewpoint, what were your impressions?
It was a very nice trip. The people there live soccer, they love soccer. So when we went to watch some good game, like Boca and River Plate, it was a very good feeling to see how it can be in Seattle–hopefully very soon. There were lots of fans and a big crowd. I think it’s possible to do this in Seattle. It was very interesting to see to see the ambience of the game. I just wish I could’ve played more.
As a boy, the biggest matches in the world were played in your homeland. Looking back, what was the effect of the 1998 World Cup in France?
I was 14, and it was a real great year, with France winning. We liked the sport but we were not like Spain or England or Italy or Germany. Winning our first World Cup was good for France because for the next four years everybody was very looking at every player in France because of the value. It made a big, big difference.
Are there particular clubs or players you follow?
Every time I follow the game of my local team, Rennes. I went with my father to the game. My spirit is still in watching this team because I’m from there. Zidane is the most famous player in France, but there are a lot of good players around the world. I’m not so much a fan of certain players or teams, but of beautiful soccer.
Describe what led you from Rennes to playing here in Seattle.
I came two years ago with a French team, to play in Dallas before the MLS final. I played well and so I was invited back to a tryout with Dallas the next February. That winter I met a girl in France, and she said if I didn’t stay in Dallas, that I should consider coming here. I stayed one month in Dallas, but I didn’t sign. So I came here, signed here and really enjoyed my season. I want to continue to stay here a make a big success with Seattle.
In France, soccer is king. Why come to America?
We really don’t know much about the USA. We know it is very big. Like we know that Texas is huge. In California, it’s the stars. In Seattle it’s more Grey’s Anatomy, the TV series. And so when I came here I really liked it. Everybody was very kind to me and helpful. That is one of the reasons I want to stay here.
Were you always focused on becoming a professional player?
When I was young, when I was asked of my dream in life, every time I said I wanted to become a professional soccer player. Every day that was my dream and sometimes it was hard because I was not playing on the best team in my club. But I continued to work and enjoy the game because I really liked it. After a lot of effort and work, I am living my dream now. I am happy and I will not change. Everybody has a dream. Every day, when you live your dream, you wake up with a smile and enjoy going to work. It’s a joy to play soccer, to see the kids, to sign autographs. It’s really what I want and a very good thing. I hope to stay a long, long time. I live my dream now.
There must be a special feeling, to know that you were selected as the first player for Sounders FC.
I’m very proud to be the first player to sign here, but I’m not finished. Just because I signed, it doesn’t ensure success. To be a success, I know I need to work and make progress. Right now, I don’t know if I truly realize what this means. It may be 30-40 years from now, when I say that I was the first player signed by Seattle Sounders FC. I know then I will be very happy. I really decided to stay here because I want to prove to everybody that Seattle is the city of soccer. I enjoy playing here and Seattle will be one of the big clubs in USA very soon, and I want to be part of that success.