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CHESTER, Pa. -- Although the Union’s 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City on Saturday wasn’t the homecoming Sebastien Le Toux ultimately envisioned, the Frenchman was thrilled to be back.
“It was fantastic,” said Le Toux, who scored the Union’s first goal of 2013 in the 17th minute. “I never left, my spirit was here. Having my name said in the starting 11, it was a great reception. I couldn’t ask for anything better. It just motivates me more and more. I'm thankful for them and very happy to be back.”
After being traded back to the Union from the New York Red Bulls in December, Le Toux, a fan favorite who played his last game for the Union on Oct. 20, 2011, made his presence felt almost immediately in his return.
Picking a Keon Daniel cross out of the air, Le Toux settled the ball with a great first touch before easily scoring through Jimmy Nielsen to grab the lead on mighty Sporting KC in the 17th minute. It was exactly what the the Union needed and sent the PPL Park crowd into a frenzy.
“It was good for my confidence, as a forward,” said Le Toux, who is the Union franchise leader in goals with 26. “Especially not playing the position for year -- playing on the wing. I prefer playing forward, so it was huge for me. But I’m disappointed about the result, I’m not thinking about my goal today.”
In an attempt to combat Sporting KC with personnel, Union coach John Hackworth surprised many on Saturday with his roster decisions. Instead of starting Jack McInerney, Conor Casey, Bakary Soumare or Danny Cruz, the PPL Park crowd saw Amobi Okugo on the back line, Ray Gaddis at left back and Gabe Farfan up front.
“They were tough choices,” Hackworth said. “You guys get to write they were the wrong choices but the coach has to make the choices and I take full responsibility for that.”
Although Hackworth felt the need to defend his decisions, they weren’t the reason for the Union’s 3-1 loss. The Union absolutely dominated the first 45 minutes of the contest with 12 attempts on net and four corners, before mistakes, mental lapses and inability to adapt saw the Union fall to Sporting KC.
“Everything we thought we could take advantage of worked,” Hackworth said. “And not just for a couple minutes but for almost the entire first half. And if we execute on the chances we have, we walk into halftime up by two or three goals. That didn’t happen. It’s about execution and that’s what Sporting KC did. We pushed the game the right way and did what we wanted to do. But we didn’t execute.
“Little details are letting us down and that can’t happen.”
Hackworth noted that the reason for his unusual roster changes was scheme-based.
“Ray’s been really good,” he said. “He was very good defensively. I thought he did a great job. Conor has had a good preseason but we wanted to press and we did. That’s not one of Conor’s strengths, he still needs time to get integrated. Same thing with Baky, he’s had a solid preseason. But when it comes down to it, we planned on taking the game to them, so our decision was to go with Amobi.”