Sebastien Le Toux admits he felt relief Saturday, and for good reason. When the Union midfielder converted an Andrew Wenger feed during a 2-1 loss to D.C. United, he ended a season-long scoring drought.
It took 14 games for Le Toux to score his first goal. For someone who had been a double-figure goal scorer in three of his previous four years with the Union, it has been a frustrating season so far.
"I hope that goal can get me going and there won't be any more talk of me not scoring," said Le Toux, 31, who has two assists. "I am glad it is out of the way and now I hope to go on a streak."
Le Toux has been playing as an attacking midfielder, and even with the scoring drought, he has played a strong overall game, coach Jim Curtin said.
"Even though he hasn't scored [much], he has done a great job defensively," Curtin said. "And the defensive effort he has put in has been very good for our group."
Still, Le Toux, who had 12 goals last year, has been known during his two stints with the Union as a dependable finisher who has carried the team for stretches.
Last season, he scored eight goals in an eight-game span and the Union went 3-1-4.
"Hopefully he can get on a hot streak, one of those patented Le Toux summer runs where he gets hot and scores eight to 10 goals in a pretty brief period," said Curtin, whose team hosts Columbus Wednesday night at PPL Park.
Le Toux's struggles have coincided with the Union's rough start.
They are 3-8-3, although they are playing their best stretch of soccer. Before the loss to D.C., a game in which the Union led 1-0 on Le Toux's goal, the Union had won consecutive games over United and the New York Red Bulls, the first- and third-place teams in the Eastern Conference.
Crew at Union
Columbus Crew (4-4-4) at Union (3-8-3)
Wednesday at 7 p.m., PPL Park.
TV: The Comcast Network.
Crew on the road: 0-3-3; Union at home: 2-3-1.
Goals for: Columbus, 19; Union, 14,
Goals against: Columbus 16; Union 23.
Last game: Columbus played to a 2-2 draw Saturday at Orlando City. The Union lost, 2-1, on Saturday at D.C. United on a penalty kick by Chris Rolfe in the 85th minute.
This season: The Union lost, 4-1, at Columbus on April 25.
Outlook: Columbus defender Michael Parkhurst is out after receiving a red card last game. . . . Crew forward Kei Kamara leads MLS with 10 goals. . . . Columbus midfielder Ethan Finlay is tied for the MLS assist lead with seven. . . The Union are in the middle of playing three games in eight days, with the third Saturday against visiting NYC FC. . . . Union defender Steven Vitoria, who has missed the last five games with a groin/hamstring injury, returned to practice on Monday, but says he won't be ready for Wednesday. . . . Forward Conor Casey (quadriceps) is out. . . . Fernando Aristeguieta leads the Union with three goals, but hasn't scored in his last five games. Midfielder Cristian Maidana leads the Union with four assists. . . . Brian Sylvestre, who has a 1.25 goals-against average, is expected to start his fifth consecutive game. . . . The Union's minus-9 goal differential is the worst in MLS. . . . The Union announced on Tuesday that they will host AFC Bournemouth for an international friendly July 14 at PPL Park. . . . Bournemouth has been promoted to the English Premier League for the 2015-2016 season.
- Marc Narducci