PARIS (AP) – After being stifled for much of this season, Sebastien Le Toux has regained his scoring touch in a big way and given a boost to the Philadelphia Union's drive for their first playoff berth.
As Le Toux tries to add to his goal binge, the Union attempt to extend their unbeaten streak to a team-record six Sunday night while slowing down another red-hot scorer, Chivas USA's Juan Pablo Angel.
Le Toux tied for fourth in the league with 14 goals during the Union's inaugural 2010 campaign, but it seemed he wouldn't come close to matching that total this year with only one goal in his first 22 games. He's broken out of that slump with a torrid surge, scoring nine times in the past eight contests.
"I think once he started to score goals he broke that (mental) barrier," forward Veljko Paunovic told the league's official website. "He was maybe struggling during the year, but he's more relaxed now. He's enjoying the game."
Le Toux scored twice in the first 15 minutes of a 3-2 home win over D.C. United on Thursday.
"He's en fuego," Chivas coach Robin Fraser said. "We just need to be smart in defending, smart in the spaces that we give him and the spaces that we take away from him."
Angel will try to continue his own binge. The striker has six goals in six games since being acquired from Los Angeles on Aug. 17, including five over the last three matches. He scored twice in a 4-0 win over Toronto FC last Saturday.
"I think Juan has really adapted to us and feels like one of us," Fraser said. "You can look at his effort and what he's given us, it's been fantastic."
While Angel's big performance last weekend helped Chivas USA (8-12-11) snap an 0-4-3 skid, Le Toux has led Philadelphia (10-7-13) on a 2-0-3 streak.
The Union, though, played four of those games at home. Three of their final four matches are on the road, where they are 3-6-5 and winless in four straight (0-2-2).
That stretch begins with Philadelphia having to play across the country on just two days' rest.
"We know we have more work to do and we have to be smart about our bodies, especially with the short turnaround and also with the long travel," midfielder Brian Carroll said.
Philadelphia is 2-0-1 in this all-time series, outscoring Chivas 7-3. Le Toux has a goal and two assists in those three games. Angel has one goal in four career matchups with the Union.
Danny Mwanga had the go-ahead goal for Philadelphia in a 3-2 home win over Chivas on June 25 and also scored in a 1-all draw last season in the team's only previous road game in this series. Mwanga, however, sat out Thursday's game with a strained hip flexor and his status is unknown for this one.