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Trying to figure out Vancouver’s side of the Le Toux-Richards trade

Vancouver Whitecaps' Sebastien Le Toux celebrates his goal against the Colorado Rapids during the second half of their MLS soccer game in Vancouver

Vancouver Whitecaps’ Sebastien Le Toux celebrates his goal against the Colorado Rapids during the second half of their MLS soccer game in Vancouver, British Columbia June 16, 2012. REUTERS/Ben Nelms (CANADA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)


When is a like-for-like actually an unlike-for-unlike? Almost any time Jamiacan speedster Dane Richards is swapped for another right-sided player, and while Sebastien Le Toux isn’t purely a wide man, he’ll replace Richards on that flank as he swaps Vancouver for New York.

The trade was confirmed today, with some allocation money going with Richards to Vancouver. Both are expected to be with their teams this weekend.

From New York’s point of view, they have to feel like they’re getting the better player. At his best, Le Toux is one of the league’s elite attackers. Richards, more a match up problem than an all-around threat, can’t say the same.

Despite only recording four goals and one assist in 19 appearances with Vancouver, Le Toux is a special player. At least, he is in Erik Soler’s mind.

“Sebastien is one of the premier attacking players in the League (sic) and someone who we have admired for a long time,” the Red Bulls’ general manager said, in comments published at “He will be able to play a number of different positions and will be an important piece for us as we challenge for the MLS Cup this year.”

Vancouver’s end of the deal looks a bit weird. Perhaps they feel a player with Dane Richards’ speed is all they need to take a struggling attack (21 goals in 19 games) to the next level. Then again, they already have Darren Mattocks. Maybe the Whitecaps are double down on burners.

“Richards is a speedy player and very dangerous down the wing,” Vancouver head coach Martin Rennie said, in the same piece (linked, above). “He brings plenty of MLS and international experience to our club, so we’re delighted to have him in Vancouver.”

Richards’ production doesn’t match Le Toux’s, even though me makes slightly more money (surprisingly, with Richards’ total compensation $181,500 to Le Toux’s $169,000). In 17 games, Richards has two goals and one assist.

Over the last three years, Richards has posted 13 goals. Le Toux? Twenty-nine.

Le Toux’s flexibility should be missed. He can play almost any of Rennie’s attacking positions. Richards is an exclusively right-sided player.

On the back of Vancouver’s sale of David Chiumiento to FC Zurich, it looks like shake up is the order of the day. Le Toux was the team’s most talented attacker, and Chiumiento led Vancouver in assists, but apparently when you’re averaging barely over a goal per game, nobody’s off limits.

It’s a baseball-style challenge trade: A swap of two players who play the same position. Let the better side win, though looking at what these players have done since Le Toux moved from Seattle, Vancouver’s part is a difficult to figure out.