When D.C. United signed 33-year-old Sébastien Le Toux in January of 2017, the forward already had eight years of MLS experience, 57 goals, and 57 assists under his belt. The Black-and-Red expected the Frenchman to provide depth and veteran experience up top, but his exact role with the team remained to be determined prior to the start of the season.
“When I talked to Le Toux in the offseason, I explained to him that coming to our group came about late in the day,” head coach Ben Olsen said of Le Toux after he signed with the club in January. “We were pretty settled, and he assured me that ‘look, I’m here for whatever role you need me to play.’ He’s done nothing but that.”
After coming off of the bench for the Black-and-Red in three of the first six matches of the season (including his 250th career MLS appearances against the Red Bulls on April 15), Le Toux earned his first start for United and his 200th career Major League Soccer start on April 22 in New England. The forward wasted no time enhancing United’s attack as he made a strong run into the box and chipped the keeper in the 28th minute, netting his first goal of the season and helping United earn their first road point of 2017.
After his strong performance against the Revolution, the forward made his second-consecutive start and scored his second goal in as many matches during United’s April 30th match in Atlanta. Le Toux helped stretch Atlanta’s back line throughout the match and beat an offside trap in the 55th minute, outracing Atlanta’s defenders to take advantage of a Luciano Acosta through-ball and again chipping the keeper to give United a 3-1 lead.
“He’s been a proven goal scorer in the league,” midfielder Lloyd Sam said of Le Toux following the match. “He plays the line really well and stays on the defenders’ shoulders, and both of his goals have been similar where he beats the offside trap. He does that really well, and we’re very grateful to have him fill in like that.”
While Le Toux’s impending role with United was not always clear prior to the start of the season, the Frenchman has stepped up and helped lead the Black-and-Red attack in a time of need. Le Toux is now the only active MLS player with at least 55 goals and 55 assists, in addition to being seventh for most career goals, third for most career assists, and fourth for most career points among active players. Despite being the fourth-oldest member of the Black-and-Red, Le Toux continues to climb in statistical rankings and reach impressive career milestones thanks to his sustained offensive production.
“It’s been nice to have him the last few games,” Olsen said of Le Toux following the Atlanta match. “He’s been in a lot of games and understands how to play forward. He is very intelligent on the field both offensively and defensively.”
Since entering United’s lineup during a stretch in which goals were hard to come by, Le Toux has helped the Black-and-Red rediscover their offensive form. Now, veteran Le Toux will look to continue to take advantage of his opportunity, resurging at exactly the time his teammates have needed him and will look to help his new side defeat his old familiar one, the Philadelphia Union, on May 13.
"He’s an intelligent soccer player,” Olsen said. “His work rate is unbelievable, he gives us a threat in behind, and he usually makes the right play, so he's been big. He's filled in very nicely."