I was meandering through a few European soccer websites yesterday, and I came across an interview that Sebastien Le Toux gave to Le Monde, one of France's biggest newspapers.
Le Toux was borm in Mont-Saint-Aignon, developned his game at Rennes' youth academy and played professionally for Ligue 2 club Lorient from 2004 to 2006. He moved to Seattle in 2007 and played two years with the A-League version of the Sounders before moving up to MLS with the new club in 2009.
The interview is in French, but you can probably pick up on a few of Le Toux's references to how soccer has grown in the United States. It happens to be the one foreign language that I know, so here's my translation for you.
Most of what he has to say is familiar: the sport's prominence relative to baseball and football, the structure of MLS' finances and the rigors of cross-country travel in America. There are a few notable tidbits towards the end, though.
Le Toux was asked for his opinion of the U.S. national team, and he said it can "create a surprise and go far in the World Cup."
"They showed during the Confederations Cup [last summer] that they aren't bad, and a lot of the players are improving in Europe," he said.
Le Toux was also asked to assess the Union's chances of success this year.
"For the first year, the main objective is to qualify for the playoffs," he said. "If we qualify, we'll try to go as far as possible, and I think we can aim to win MLS Cup this year."
Le Toux also praised the youth of the Union's squad.
"I hope that the fact that we have a young team will help us," he said. "And with beginner's luck, why can't we do something good this year?"
The Union are off this weekend, but there are a few games around the league worth watching. DC United, which comes here next Saturda, plays its home opener against New England; and Red Bull New York goes west to Seattle. The latter of those games is on Fox Soccer Channel.
There's also Manchester United-Chelsea in the morning - 7:45 a.m. on ESPN2, to be precise. I suspect that a few of you will see this post when you wake up early... and some others of you probably slept through it. I hope your DVRs were working.