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Le Toux leads young Union to vital victory

LeTouxCrew (Getty)


CHESTER, Pa.– Sebastien Le Toux continued his recent hot streak with a goal, propelling the Philadelphia Union to a 1-0 victory against the Eastern Conference leading Columbus Crew. The win was the first in nine games for Philadelphia, which picked up valuable points in the tight MLS playoff race.

Playing alongside the youngest lineup the Union has fielded all season, Le Toux provided the veteran leadership, and the scoring touch, running onto a long pass from Roger Torres to finish off the eventual game-winner, which pushed the Union to within two points of the Crew for first place in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we were pretty well organized,” said Le Toux after the game. “To come here with a win against Columbus and to now be two points off them with one game in hand on them, it’s good for the confidence, but now we have to rest quickly and be ready for Kansas City.”

Union head coach Peter Nowak turned to a surprisingly young group of players in his starting eleven, and even handed a start to 16-year-old homegrown player Zach Pfeffer. The young midfielder came out confident and was not afraid to take on defenders early. The Crew, on the other hand, were missing several important players, including Eddie Gaven.

“A combination of nerves and obviously, I was very excited," Pfeffer said of his MLS debut. "It was my first league game, and not only was it my debut, I got a start, which was great. It was fun, I enjoyed the game a lot and I just went out on the field and just played how I do every day in training.”

“I think he was nervous as soon as he saw his name on the board," Nowak said. "I think he sensed that he might start a game; during practice, he was very good, he was playing with the first team. In the sixty minutes he played, I think it was a good start.”

The Union and Crew played a fairly even first half-hour, with most of the possession being held in midfield. Freddy Adu combined well once again with Roger Torres in midfield, and the 4-5-1 formation used by Nowak appeared evenly matched against the Crew’s usual 4-4-2.

After the Union held out to go into halftime with their 1-0 lead, the second half began in similar fashion to the first. Each team looked to penetrate their opponent's penalty area, but the goalkeepers were given little to do.

Late in the game, Nowak made a few changes to the team in an attempt to hold on, as the Crew began to look more dangerous. Amobi Okugo came on for Roger Torres while Danny Mwanga replaced Pfeffer. Meanwhile, Justin Meram and Jeff Cunningham were introduced for the Crew as Columbus coach Robert Warzycha tried to spur his side on in their search for an equalizer.

But with the changes made by Nowak, and some solid defending, Philadelphia managed to hold on for a highly valuable three points. They continued their climb back up the Eastern Conference towards the top spot, sitting just two points back as of the end of the game.

The Crew, on the other hand, continued a disappointing stretch in which they have now gone five games without a win. They haven’t won a game since, ironically, a 2-1 home win over Philadelphia on August 20.

“They get one chance, they capitalize, they’re at home, and it’s tough to bounce back,” said Crew striker Justin Meram. “They’re a great team. It’s tough to say what went wrong. At times we play great soccer, other times we hit a lull. We just need to stay calm and wait for the right chance.”

Rookie goalkeeper Zak MacMath enjoyed a solid performance in his third start in place of injured starter Faryd Mondragon. MacMath posted his second straight shutout, earning more confidence from his defense.

“He’s one of the most humble guys, he works really really hard," Union defender Dan Califf said. "He’s always out there on the field, literally doing extra work. For him to come in and put together the kind of performances he’s putting in, and keep his head and play with confidence, and not let anything rattle him, is huge for him. It speaks volumes about the potential that this kid has.”

Philadelphia will now look to continue their path back up the standings next week when they travel to Kansas City to take on Sporting, the only other team above them in the standings besides the Crew. Columbus will look to get back on track in a tough matchup next week as they host league leaders Los Angeles.


  1. gah. it’s hopeless convincing the Adu apologists that he is not worthy of a spot in the Philly lineup. the good news is that if he continues playing the way he has for Philly, then it won’t be long until he’s out of the MLS indefinitely.

  2. on and on

    well, he didn’t play as you say in the Philly comeback vs. NE, nor in his perfomances this summer for the USMNT. He doesn’t walk on water, no sh!t, but he’s not the extreme other end of the spectrum you are panting

  3. @beachbum – he played poorly because he slowed down the play, gave the ball away too often (via poor passes or being caught in possession), did not work when Philly didn’t have the ball and did not create any kind of scoring chances. I wouldn’t classify it as sub par because it’s actually the way he has consistently played for Philly.

    And to add further support to the fact that Adu just isn’t very good at all, he has the lowest Castrol Index score on the entire team.

    No one has posted as to why I am incorrect. I would like to hear some evidence as to why Adu is any good.

  4. To review why Adu sucks, let’s look at a breakdown of his performance courtesy of Opta chalkboards (

    He had one shot and it was blocked. His only attacking free kick is listed as a cross, but it was far too high and went directly over the end line. Defensively, he didn’t win any challenges and recovered the ball twice – not much good there.

    Sixteen times he was tackled and lost possession – compared to one successful dribbled.

    He didn’t make a single successful cross and the majority of his successful passes were not attacking ones whereas his unsuccessful passes mostly occurred in the attacking third.

    Admittedly, one game does not a career make, but one need only to look at the chalkboards from the other games to see the performance vs. Columbus is indicative of his usual level of play.

  5. @pd – definitely not trolling. Adu didn’t have an assist, Torres did. Read the post, please. Macmath played fine but it’s risky to catch the ball so low. By catching the ball lower than he should on crosses, he allows for an opponent the opportunity to put in a challenge. If he catches it higher then he’s the only one who can get it. Macmath just needs to be a little bit more assertive – other than that, he’s played fine.

  6. I’m sorry troll, but didn’t Adu have an assist? And didn’t McMath post his second shutout?(a goalie trains to get as much of his body as possible behind the ball). Mwanga should see more time no doubt, but to say Adu sux is a bit much… Unless you’re a trolling troll.

  7. @Hush – Not sure where you got the idea that I want players to play like they’re in the NFL. Freddy Adu sucks because he gets caught with the ball far too often and he doesn’t work on defense. Other than Adu, Philly’s players did a good job. My only issue w/Pfeffer is that he was pushed off the ball a few times b/c he wasn’t strong enough on the ball. He should take lessons from Torres in how to protect the ball.

  8. When are dudes going to understand THAT FREDDY ADU is NOT BRIAN URLACHER! Torres & Adu were great together once again what were ypu watching? Are u forgetting this is the MLS and not Copa Lbertadores games? Union won the game considering they had babies out in the field, what else are u expecting?! …… “Esteban” thinks every offensive minded person in the midfield should be blitzing players like Palemalu for….. Learn how to read the game with patience, mi hermanito. This isn’t the NFL.

  9. My thoughts on the game:
    Freddy Adu is horrible. Doesn’t play defense. Doesn’t offer anything on offense. Just horrible.
    Pfeffer played a little too slowly and wasn’t strong enough on the ball.
    The Brothers Farfan played well. I like them. Actually, the entire Philly defense played well. Sheanon Williams was a beast.
    Mwanga must replace Adu. I can’t say it enough, Adu is horrible.
    Macmath catches the ball too low – like around eye-level as opposed to above-the-head.


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