Sunday, September 21, 2014
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Sébastien Le Toux surprised by trade to Vancouver Whitecaps

Sébastien Le Toux spoke with the Vancouver media late Monday afternoon, and a few Philadelphia reporters were in on the conference call.

Sébastien Le Toux surprised by trade to Vancouver Whitecaps

Sébastien Le Toux spoke with the Vancouver media late Monday afternoon' and a few Philadelphia reporters were in on the conference call.

He also made an appearance on Vancouver’s TEAM 1410 radio station' for an interview with Whitecaps play-by-play voice Peter Schaad.

What follows is an amalgamation of Le Toux’s remarks.

Le Toux said on the conference call that he had been in preseason training with the Union. He did not officially hear about the deal until Union assistant coach John Hackworth called him this morning, and told Schaad that the call came while Le Toux was en route to practice.

Unofficially, though, Le Toux already knew something was up. He told Schaad that he "kind of found out a little bit [Monday] on Twitter, like a lot of people did."

"A lot of people were talking and asking me questions, and I had no clue," Le Toux told Schaad. "I just found out this morning when I was on my way to practice – assistant coach John Hackworth called me and told me I was traded to Vancouver."

Although the news came as a surprise to Le Toux - and to just about everyone, frankly - Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi said he's been after Le Toux for a while.

"Truth be known, we had inquired about Sébastien halfway through last season," Lenarduzzi said. "There was no interest on Philadelphia’s part to move him. By expressing an interest, I’m assuming we were one of the first calls they made."

For as much as the Le Toux trade surprised me, Lenarduzzi's remarks surprised me just as much.

Le Toux admitted on the conference call that "it’s always hard to leave a team, especially as I was committed 100 percent when I was in Philadelphia."

But polite as ever, he quickly added: "I’m just going to be 100 percent with the Vancouver Whitecaps now. I’m lucky to be able to play in places where the fans are great."

Schaad asked Le Toux whether he felt more that the Union did not want him, or more that the Whitecaps wanted him very much.

"I feel both ways," Le Toux said. "Of course I was 100 percent focused on the Philadelphia Union, because that’s who I am – I don’t play 90 percent."

Then Le Toux ever so quietly dropped a hammer on his former employer.

"The fact that I’m leaving, I was sad at the beginning because I’ve had two good years here," Le Toux told Schaad. "But after the fact, the coach of Philadelphia doesn’t really want me anymore in his team. The Whitecaps want me more and believe in me."

On the conference call, Le Toux offered one example of why that was the case.

"I was playing [at times] in Philadelphia in a position that I didn’t play a lot in with Seattle'" he said. "I really liked to play forward in Philly. Vancouver hasn’t told me the position they want me to play' but I like to play forward and I think that’s a position where the coaches want me to play."

Le Toux was asked a few times about his time at Bolton Wanderers' and whether he was disappointed that it didn’t come to anything.

It turns out that he was not.

"It was just to visit - it was not really a tryout'" Le Toux said. "It was to have a good experience. I wanted to stay playing in the U.S. because I still have one year [left on my] contract."

I asked Lenarduzzi a similar question to the one I asked Peter Nowak earlier: is it just a coincidence that the Union and Whitecaps have made so many trades' or is there something more to it?

"I think it has more to do with positional needs'" Lenarduzzi said. "Last year' we ere looking for a left back and identified Jordan as a player we’d like to have. [Whitecaps manager] Martin Rennie was pretty specific about the holes he wanted to fill. [Le Toux] can at this point form quite a tandem with Eric Hassli."

In the end, Le Toux said he’s looking forward to returning to Philadelphia with his new team on March 31. It won’t be the first time he has had an emotional homecoming with a  former club.

"I think it’s always a pleasure to come back in a stadium you have played in," he said. "I was always happy to come back and play in Seattle and I will be happy to come back to Philadelphia. They have great fans. I’m sure it will be great. I just want to win with Vancouver and show that Vancouver is a great team."

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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The Goalkeeper is your home for the latest news about the Philadelphia Union, Major League Soccer, U.S. national teams and the rest of the world's most popular sport. It's also a place for fans to gather and celebrate the culture of soccer and its unique place on the sports landscape.

Reach Jonathan at jtannenwald@phillynews.com or 215-854-2330.

Jonathan Tannenwald Philly.com
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