- Posted by Kevin Kinkead
- On August 4, 2010
- 3 Comments
- France, Kevin Kinkead, Sebastien Le Toux
By: Kevin Kinkead
Zero wins, one goal, one player sent home, an open revolt, and a lame duck coach – that’s the World Cup in a nutshell for the French National Team.
It was a sorry performance that left an entire country outraged – a country that was on the brink of winning the same competition just four years earlier. But the disappointment that began with the “head butt seen ’round the world” continued through an insipid Euro 2008 and into South Africa. For Les Bleus supporters, there hasn’t been much to cheer about.
Long gone are Zinedine Zidane, Claude Makalele, and Lilian Thuram. Thierry Henry retired from international football this Summer. And Raymond Domenech is finally out the door after four years of eccentricity and head-scratching decisions.
It’s a fresh start for the French. Les Bleus legend Laurent Blanc is now at the helm. His first move? A one-game suspension for every single player in the World Cup squad.
The punishment is hardly severe. In fact, it’s the equivalent of a kindergarten “time out”. 23 players will miss out on the August 11th friendly against Norway.
But let’s be honest.
The French squad did include some players who put in an effort, players who wanted to represent their country. Hugo Lloris, Jeremy Toulalan, Bacary Sagna – those are a few of the guys who deserve to wear the shirt again.
But the idea behind the suspension is to prove a point – everyone is expendable. No spots are guaranteed. No one’s job is safe.
The Norway friendly is pointless. Managers are getting ready for their domestic seasons, and they aren’t happy with this international date in August. It’s a time to experiment, and to give new players international experience.
Laurent Blanc could send a message by calling up Union striker Sebastien Le Toux.
Of course, there are much better French forwards out there, who did not travel to South Africa. Loic Remy, Karim Benzema, Jimmy Briand, and Bafetimbi Gomis are just a few.
But why not do something drastic and different? When you’re at rock bottom, there’s only one way to go.
Sebastien is not as skilled as Nicolas Anelka. He’s not as big as Andre Pierre-Gignac. He’s not as fast as Sidney Govou. But he’s got a bigger motor and a bigger heart than any of those guys.
The message is effort, desire, and intensity. While those traits were absent in South Africa, Le Toux has exemplified them over his blue-collar career.
It’s a career that began in the Rennes youth ranks. Following a stint with Lorient, (then a second division team), Sebastien headed State-side. After a failed tryout with FC Dallas, Le Toux found a place with USL side Seattle Sounders.
He would score 24 times in 54 league appearances, but found himself left off the Sounders “protected” list, after the team’s first year in MLS.
That enabled the Philadelphia Union to select him in the 2009 Expansion Draft.
You know the rest of the story.
Eight goals and seven assists in 13 games played. Sebastien became a Philadelphia legend on April 10th, 2010, when he netted the team’s first hat-trick against DC United.
His performances earned him a place on the MLS All-Star Team, and a spot in Bruce Arena’s starting XI.
Like most success stories, it didn’t happen overnight.
But perhaps the intangibles are Sebastien’s biggest strengths.
Le Toux is always last player to leave the field. Why? He’s busy signing autographs. He’s busy speaking to the fans. The French superstars go straight to the locker room, or the bus, or back to the Escalade.
Sebastien Le Toux chases every ball, plays hard in every match, and actually wants to be on the pitch.
But who would he prefer to play for?
Sebastien has claimed that he’d be willing to play for the U.S. National Team.
In 2008, he did an interview with Seattle’s “Prost Amerika”. Here’s the excerpt-
“Prost Amerika: So you don’t harbour any ambitions to one day play for France?
Le Toux: If I do have an international ambition, it’s to play for the country which has accepted me. I’ll do my best and I do like it here.
Prost Amerika: So you would theoretically be willing to represent the USA if selected?
Le Toux: If they ask me, I would be very honoured to do that, and if there was a chance I’d jump at it.”
Given his qualities, I think the French people would accept Sebastien Le Toux. They just need to see him in action.
So, if Laurent Blanc wants to send a message, then call him up for the Norway match.
Let it be known that there are roster spots for players who want to work hard and wear the shirt.
Editor’s Note: Kevin Kinkead is a writer and producer for CBS3 Eyewitness News in Philadelphia, PA. His work can also be seen on Philly Soccer Page as well.