CHESTER, PA - SEPTEMBER 17: Sebastien Le Toux #9 of the Philadelphia Union waves to the crows after their MLS soccer game against the Columbus Crew, September 17, 2011 at PPL Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Union won 1-0 on a score by Le Toux. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Sebastien Le Toux is on trial at Bolton and if Owen Coyle fancies him as a Wanderers player (which rumor has it, he does), the Frenchman could well be on his way to the Reebok sooner rather than later. Most Bolton fans don't know a lot about Major League Soccer or the various players and teams in the league so we've taken it upon ourselves to get you lot a little bit more information about the player that might just become the next Man in White.
We had a little talk with our good friend Keith Hickey who is a writer for soccer culture website KCKRS and a beat writer for the Philadelphia Union, Le Toux's current club team. Keith, along with SBNation site The Brotherly Game are some of the foremost experts on the U and their players. We asked Keith a few questions about Le Toux's positives, negatives, and what the fanbase can expect.
Hit the jump.Should Le Toux get signed after his trial, what can Bolton fans expect from him?
On the field, an unparalleled work ethic, combined with a polished technical ability and a nose for goal. He's got a perfect record taking penalties, as well. Off of it, one of the most humble, engaging players I've ever seen. Covering the Union as a journalist, we'd often have to wait to get quotes because he was still signing autographs and talking to fans.
We've heard a lot of positives about Seba and his abilities on the ball. What would you say are his best features?
He's got incredible stamina. The work rate is really the first thing you notice. He's everywhere, constantly, causing problems and trying to create opportunities. The technical skill, specifically his first touch and ability to finish, is outstanding. Despite a really unlucky run last year, where he scored one goal (a penalty) in the first twenty-two matches (and hit the woodwork or was inches wide at least a dozen times), he's a great natural finisher. The tear he went on towards the end of that campaign, scoring ten goals in the final twelve matches of the regular season, is much more indicative of his abilities. His specialty is scoring and creating goals on the counter-attack.
And what about his downfalls? What is it about Sebastien Le Toux that would make him ineffective?
He's got some pace, but isn't a true speed merchant, so that aspect of his game might be neutralized a bit by the better defenders he'd face in the Premiership, and despite his height (6'1), he's never been really effective in the air. He's not much of a gritty scrapper, either. He'll work hard, but he's one of the cleanest players in MLS, and has won the "Fair Play" award two years running. If you're looking for a direct replacement for Kevin Davies, Le Toux is not your man.
We know that he's comfortable on the ball but what about off it? Is Sebastien capable of making piercing runs to get into scoring positions? What about his positional awareness?
Making smart runs, hanging off the last defender and getting a good first touch, is his bread and butter. Positionally, he's at his best when he's allowed to roam up top, working the defenders and finding holes where he can get a little bit of space behind them to exploit. when he was with Seattle in 2009, they played him as a strict right midfielder most of the time, and he was pretty ineffective there.
Bolton have sorely missed someone that can control the midfield, is that something Le Toux can provide if he can't break through to become a starting striker?
I really don't see that as his forte, given his success up top, but I've also never seen him used as a central midfielder. Having said that, his skill-set (decent speed, good technical ability, that marvelous engine of his) and his willingness to do whatever will help the team makes me think he might be able to pull it off. I don't know if the pressure of a relegation dogfight is the wisest time to test an untried player in a new position, however.
Lastly, assuming that Owen Coyle likes what he sees, do you expect the deal to happen?
As much as it pains me, since I'd be disappointed to see him move on, I can't see why it won't. Seba is the type of player that everyone adores. He's beloved in Seattle, where he spent three years and won a second division championship, he's beloved in Philly, where he's been the undisputed star for the last two, and he's respected across the league as a classy, talented player.
Thanks again, Keith. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and we'll do our best to get them answered quickly.