Le Toux, the first player signed by Sounders FC, was taken by the Philadelphia Union in Wednesday's MLS expansion draft.

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Their original MLS Sounder is gone, now to become an original member of the expansion Philadelphia Union.

The Union, Major League Soccer’s newest team, chose Sounders FC forward-midfielder Sebastien Le Toux in the Union’s expansion draft Wednesday. Le Toux was one of 10 players — from 10 different MLS teams — selected by Philadelphia coach Peter Nowak and staff as it builds its roster for the 2010 season.

Le Toux, a 25-year-old native of France, became the first player signed by Sounders FC on May 8, 2008 after starring for the USL Sounders the season before. He was loaned out to the old Sounders by the MLS club and finished the 2008 season with them.

Known for being tireless on the field and for his heroics in Sounders FC’s run to the U.S. Open Cup title this year — he scored three goals in the club’s six tournament games — Le Toux was also a fan favorite and very visible in the local soccer community. He lives on Whidbey Island and runs a soccer academy.

Le Toux’s Open Cup success didn’t completely transfer over to the MLS regular season. He appeared in 28 regular-season games, starting 15, with one goal scored and three assists. Always a forward with the USL club, he had to transition to being midfield winger for Sounders FC.

Nevertheless, Le Toux was a key reserve for coach Sigi Schmid late in the season and in the playoffs.

“With expansion comes the unfortunate consequence that you’re likely going to lose someone,” Schmid said in a statement from the club Wednesday. “Seba is a quality player, and it’s understandable that Philadelphia valued his abilities and brought him aboard.

“We’re sad to see him go, but we wish him the best with this opportunity in Philadelphia.”

Le Toux earned a contract with Sounders FC on the strength of his 2007 season, in which he was named the USL First Division’s most valuable player. He’ll face his former team right away in 2010, as the first MLS game of the season will be March 25 when Sounders FC hosts the Union in its inaugural match.

Le Toux’s selection meant that defender James Riley, who tied for the most minutes played for a non-goalkeeper for Sounders FC in 2009, remained with the team. Riley, another fan favorite who started 27 of 28 regular-season games and solidified the team’s right fullback spot, was left unprotected on Monday when Sounders FC submitted its list of 11 exempt players to the league.

The Sounders told Riley he would be protected but when the team was told to add designated player Freddie Ljungberg to its list, Riley was the odd man out.

“No disrespect to Philly, but obviously I’ve been a journeyman and thought I had the best year of my career here,” said Riley. “Seattle fans can respect a guy who just goes about his business.”

Le Toux’s departure frees up at least $100,000 — his 2009 base salary — in salary cap funds for Sounders FC in the offseason.


• Three of Sounders FC’s developmental players — defender Evan Brown, midfielder Michael Fucito and multi-position player Lamar Neage — cleared waivers by the club after Wednesday’s expansion draft. They were eligible to be claimed by other teams. The team is expected to bring all three back for preseason training camp in January.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com