There are a few things that have become very clear so far this season.
One of which is that Sebastien Le Toux is a complete professional, a class act, and an absolute workhorse. He's second only to Joe Cannon and YP Lee for minutes logged, and appears to be cemented as our everyday first eleven right winger.
Here's the only problem.
He's not a very good winger.
I'm not the first to declare a distaste for the Frenchman.
Some of the commentators on the TEAM1040 during post game (and sometimes during the game) have complained about having to say "another poor pass by Le Toux," and his touch has been compared to that of a baby elephant. You don't have to be a zoologist to understand that the metaphor used is not a good one.
Yet in some informal conversation over on the Southsiders forum about mid-season MVP and Unsung Hero leaders, there appears to be a lot of support for Le Toux, specifically pointing to his unyielding work rate and defensive assistance. However, Le Toux is not a defensive player. He's a striker playing as a right winger. As such, I'd hope that he makes a positive impact on the game in the areas of the pitch that he's most responsible for: the final two thirds.
We can talk all day about his ability to track back. He is indeed wonderful at it. He's the first one putting back pressure on midfielders carrying the ball out of their own half, and he's always running down opposing fullbacks on overlaps. And one of my favourite parts about Seba is that when he turns the ball over, either by being tackled, or due to a misplaced pass, he never pouts, or gets discouraged, but rather turns around and hustles his arse off to try and get the ball back.
However, he's not exactly good at defending. He's missed his marking on set pieces more than a couple times this season, and his positioning isn't as good as, say, YP Lee, so some crosses will get by him. This is to be expected. Remember, kids, he's a striker.
But what bothers me most is that while he's doing admirably at all the other stuff, he's been anemic going forward. Time after time a ball will get played out to him on the right just for him to make a bad pass, or run right into nowhere and get dispossessed because he ran a ball out of touch or into two defenders.
Against Chivas, Le Toux had 17 completed passes, and unsuccessful passes, for a completion rate of 77%. Compare that to Davide Chiumiento, who played on the other side of midfield, who completed 34 passes and made only 4 unsuccessful ones for a whopping 89%. In the previous game against Colorado, Le Toux did have a 90% pass rate, however it was only on a total of 10 passes. In those two games combined Le Toux only provided one cross. And it was unsuccessful.
Granted, these were not exactly stellar games for any offensive player (other than Davide Chiumiento who remains in fairly high form.) How about we go back to a game where there were a lot of things going right for the Whitecaps. The game at home versus Houston a month ago. 18 successful, 13 unsuccessful for an abysmal 58%. And only one attempted cross. Unsuccessful.
The point I'm making here is not that he's not contributing. He is.
But he's a striker. And he's shown, as he did against in Philadelphia, that he is a good striker. He can't cross the ball. He doesn't pass the ball well. He isn't exactly electrifying with the ball at his feet. What he can do is get in good position and look for the goal. It seems as if he gets the ball on the wing, in a good position, and his instinct is to take it to goal and either try a simple pass or have a go at net. Except now, he's on the wing, instead of being up front, so he has no great option for himself and that's when he runs into trouble.
Now, Rennie's first goal was to get organized defensively. It seems that job is mostly done. Perhaps now it's time that the reigns can be loosened a little bit and we can play our offensive players offensively. I'm not saying switch up to a 3-4-3, or anything, but just make sure that your players who are in attacking positions are ones who contribute to your attack. Nanchoff, Teibert, and now Barry Robson are all players who can play on the right side of midfield. And not only that, but we have roster space to add a player who is a natural right winger if Martin still feels like keeping Canadian Soccer Jesus & Nano's respective cheeks stapled to the bench.
Too often a potential attack, or even while holding onto a game where possession is required, the ball gets played out to Le Toux where a poor pass or a heavy touch means the ball is quickly turned over and coming back at Joe Cannon. And yes, Le Toux is the first one to turn and defend, but wouldn't it be better for the rest of the team if he didn't have to?