Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sébastien Le Toux returns to Philadelphia Union after trade with New York Red Bulls

Sebastien Le Toux wil face the Union on Saturday for the first time since being traded to Vancouver. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff file photo)
Sebastien Le Toux wil face the Union on Saturday for the first time since being traded to Vancouver. (Michael S. Wirtz/Staff file photo)

After an acrimonious departure from the Union last offseason, Sébastien Le Toux is returning to Philadelphia.

The Union have completed a trade with the New York Red Bulls that brings Le Toux back to PPL Park. In exchange, Philadelphia has sent Costa Rican forward Josué Martinez and an undisclosed amount of allocation money to New York.

The all-time leading scorer in the Union's still-short history, Le Toux tallied 25 goals and 20 assists in 62 games with the Union in 2010 and 2011. His contract expired at the end of the 2012 season, but the Red Bulls re-signed him in order to set up the ensuing trade.

"Sébastien indicated to us at the end of the season that he wanted to return to Philadelphia and we respected his request," Red Bulls technical director Andy Roxburgh said in a press release.

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Since leaving PPL Park in January, the Frenchman has made no secret of his desire to return to Philadelphia. 

His saga started when a trip to English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers did not produce a contract offer. Lacking an agent at that time, Le Toux tried to personally negotiate a new contract with the Union.

But then-Union manager Peter Nowak wanted Le Toux gone. The ensuing bitter disagreement led the Union to trade Le Toux to the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Le Toux flourished there for a time, scoring the Whitecaps' first goal of the season just four minutes into their opening game. But he became marginalized after tactical adjustments by Vancouver manager Martin Rennie. In July, he was traded to the New York Red Bulls - the Union's biggest rival.

Rumors of a potential return to Philadelphia have flown around the team and its fan base ever since. Now he is back where he first rose to stardom in Major League Soccer, ready to be re-embraced by a fan base that never wanted to see him leave.

Among other things, Le Toux received a standing ovation from Union fans and a handshake from Union manager John Hackworth when the Red Bulls came to PPL Park at the end of the regular season.

After the trade was announced, Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz indicated that the negative side of the team's history with Le Toux has been put firmly in the past.

"In our hearts, Sébastien has always been a Union player, and his contributions on the field and in the community while he was in Philadelphia were invaluable," Sakiewicz said in a press release issued by the team. "We are thrilled to welcome him back and look forward to having him rejoin the club."
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