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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Off the top of his head, Lloyd Sam can tell you exactly how many goals D.C. United teammate Sebastien Le Toux has scored over his nine-year MLS career. The Frenchman, for his part, has ensured that statistic is common knowledge in the RFK Stadium locker room.

“I think he’s got 59 now,” Sam said with a grin. “He always reminds us how many he’s got.”


Combine that goal total with his 57 assists and Le Toux is one of just 17 players in MLS history to reach hit the half-century mark in both statistics. Despite his status as one of the league’s most quietly productive attackers, the 33-year-old found himself a free agent as the 2017 preseason approached in January.

After spending six of the past seven seasons with the Philadelphia Union, Le Toux was sent to the Colorado Rapids in August as a reinforcement for the club’s playoff push. He made 14 appearances for Colorado, including three starts in the playoffs, before seeing his contract expire at season’s end.

As Le Toux weighed his next destination, he hoped to sign with a club near Philadelphia, where his wife, Kendall Quigley, runs an interior design and event planning company. Although United already boasted a slew of attacking options, Le Toux expressed openness to a reduced salary and secondary role.

“I knew they were pretty set on their roster, but they knew my profile,” Le Toux said. “I told them no matter what that I’m here to help, and I want to do what I can do to play.”

Le Toux inked a deal with United in late January, seeing his guaranteed compensation decline from $310,228 in 2016 to $140,004 this season, according to MLS Players Union numbers. Playing just 48 minutes over United’s first five matches, he seemed to settle into his expected role as veteran depth.

But with striker Patrick Mullins recovering from a hamstring strain and backup Jose Guillermo Ortiz struggling to make an impact, Le Toux earned a starting nod for United’s trip to face New England on April 22. He rewarded the decision with his first goal for United in a 2-2 draw, then scored again in a 3-1 victory over Atlanta this past Sunday.

“I knew how it was going to be from the beginning,” Le Toux said of his role on the bench. “I just made sure I tried to understand what the staff wanted from me and how this team plays and know the different players. But I would just try to walk out and make my case when they needed me.

“I kept pushing and kept working out, and wasn’t mad or disappointed because I wasn’t starting.”

As Mullins works his way back to full fitness, Le Toux is poised to start again when United (3-3-2) hosts against the Montreal Impact (1-3-4) on Saturday.

Primarily used as a winger or second forward in recent years, Le Toux has played as a lone striker the past two matches. While the vocal veteran doesn’t have the pure speed or physicality often seen out of players at that position, his well-timed runs and finishing prowess have allowed him to punish opposing back lines.

“He’s got great personality — a little more than I thought he had — but that translates onto the field as well,” United coach Ben Olsen said. “He’s been in a lot of games, he understands how to play forward, he can fill in wide, very intelligent on the field both offensively and defensively, and it’s been nice to have him the last few games.”

Off the field, Le Toux has taken advantage of United’s off-days after matches to make the two-hour drive or train ride to Philadelphia, and his wife has found time off from her own busy profession to visit Washington.

The arrangement has been a relief for Le Toux after his four months in Colorado last fall. In his mind, the uptick in on-the-field production has been no coincidence.

“It’s always good to see each other, even one or two days a week,” Le Toux said. “We say ‘happy wife, happy life,’ and I think it’s true for me. Right now I’ve found a good balance, and I think it’s shown in my performances.”


Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.