On Wednesday, the inaugural edition of the Sounders FC lost their first player when the Philadelphia Union selected Sebastien Le Toux in the expansion draft.
What they lose is a player who made a great impact on Seattle’s soccer community in his three years in the Pacific Northwest and, further, a member of the Sounders family.
“It’s disappointing,” said Sounders FC owner/general manager Adrian Hanauer. “Everyone on this team has gone through a lot together in the last year, not to mention the last several years for so many of those players. You never know where things will lead him over time, but Sebastien will always be a Sounder.”
Le Toux came to Seattle in 2007 as a member of the USL Sounders and made a quick impact, particularly in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, where he would score 13 goals over 16 games in three years, helping the Sounders to two semifinals in the USL and a championship victory this year.
In an off-season trip to France before the 2007 USL season, Hanauer – who was then the owner/GM for the USL Sounders – met with Sebastien Le Toux’s agent. Le Toux later had a tryout with FC Dallas in the MLS, but when they couldn’t agree on a contract, Hanauer came calling and added him to the Seattle roster.
“We saw in him then a lot of the same things that have drawn praise now – his work rate, his pace, his love of the game, his tenacity – all of those were on display,” Hanauer said.
In need of some defensive help, Le Toux seemed to fit that need when he tried out as a right back and he would split time between defender and midfielder briefly before Sounders coach Brian Schmetzer – now an assistant to Sigi Schmid – moved him to forward. Le Toux went on to score ten goals and earned USL MVP honors and the Sounders won the USL title for the second time in three years.
Not long after, Major League Soccer announced they were expanding to Seattle and prior to the 2008 season Le Toux became the Sounders FC’s first signing. He continued the momentum from his first season and tallied 14 goals and six assists in his second USL season – on loan to the Sounders.
“He was coming off of an MVP season and we wanted to secure him for the MLS, so we locked him up,” Hanauer said.
In the MLS, Le Toux showed the same tenacity, the same work rate and the same love that he did earlier in his career. But the competition was stiffer on both sides of the ball and Le Toux finished with one goal and three assists.
Now he will play with the expansion Union.
“Hopefully he gets the opportunity he needs to prove what he can do,” Hanauer said. “I wish him tons of success, just not against us.”
The Sounders FC open the 2010 MLS season against the Union at Qwest Field March 25.