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The present and future for Luciano Emilio

For a story about Luciano Emilio's return to D.C. United and his likely reintroduction at RFK Stadium on Saturday afternoon against the New York Red Bulls, I asked him about the pressure to re-prove himself after signing a short-term contract that may or may not be extended in July.

His odd response:

"I don't think I have to prove something because the people know me. I work because I love to play soccer, because I want to help D.C. United but if I don't play, I can't have another opportunity to play in Mexico. It's my dream to play in Mexico in the first division. If I stay home [in Brazil], it is difficult to negotiate something like this, but if I stay active, it is good for me to get the contract that I want. If [United] still wants to keep me after July, it's a good [situation] too. I don't want to say the name [of the Mexican club] right now, but I have the offer. I don't want to say anything about the situation because I have to concentrate on D.C. United. If after July, if D.C. takes the option, it is good and I am going to be here and happy. If D.C. doesn't take the option, I have my option to go somewhere else. It's a good agreement between us."

Your first thought probably is: So he is just using United to get a job in Mexico? Your second impression probably is: Emilio really thinks he can play in Mexico's first division? (Then again, who ever thought Herculez Gomez, 28, would become a scoring machine for Puebla after collecting one goal in 34 appearances the previous two years for Kansas City?)

Keep reading.....

Here's the deal with Emilio: Behind the personable, funny and sometimes goofy exterior, he is all business. During the contentious negotiations with United this winter, it was never personal; it was about extending his career, making money and taking care of his family. He genuinely loves playing for DCU, respects the badge and the club's history, and promises to play with the fire that unleashed an MLS MVP in 2007. But he is also 31 years old and among hundreds of anonymous Brazilians playing in foreign leagues. He probably doesn't have many years left in his career, and perhaps in his mind, returning to United allows him to position himself for one last substantial contract, whether in MLS or Mexico.

My story reveals that, if United exercises his option this summer, his salary will rise and his contract becomes guaranteed in 2011. United, which is strolling through the international market for a possible summer signing, could also trade him or simply release him.

This is the sixth time that United has taken a second chance on a high-profile attacking player. Technically Emilio never left -- United retained his rights and he never played for another MLS club -- but you get the idea. The others:

Raul Diaz Arce
1996-97: 38 goals in 48 regular season games
2000-01: 6 goals in 18 games

Roy Lassiter
1998-99: 36 goals in 55 regular season games
2002: 0 goals in 12 games

Christian Gomez
2004-2007: 39 goals, 29 assists in 97 games
2009: 6 goals, 4 assists in 27 games

Santino Quaranta
2001-06: 14 goals, 13 assists in 62 games
2008-present: 8 goals, 10 assists in 53 games

Jaime Moreno
1996-2002: 69 goals, 52 assists in 150 games
2004-present: 61 goals, 50 assists in 162 games

How do you think Emilio will fare in his second go-round with United?

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By Steve Goff  |  May 1, 2010; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  | Tags: Christian Gomez, D.C. United, Herculez Gomez, Luciano Emilio, Major League Soccer, Raul Diaz Arce, Red Bull New York, Roy Lassiter, Santino Quaranta  
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Next: Joe Vide battling Hodgkin's disease


Did we forget Jaime Moreno?

Posted by: JkR- | May 1, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I don't buy that he's got an offer with a first division club in Mexico. Something just makes me think it's all talk and posturing for contractual reasons.

Posted by: nairbsod | May 1, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Moreno, of course. Thanks! Updating now

Posted by: Steve Goff | May 1, 2010 9:04 AM | Report abuse

Talk is cheap. Ask Robinho. At least Gomes had youth on his side. No top tier Mexican team is going to look at a player of Emilio's age and mileage unless he is absolutely ripping up MLS, especially for a large peso contract. Given existing circumstances, all the heat is on Emilio to produce in a big way, so his comments really make little sense to me. Plus (as hinted at by Goffinho), he really runs the risk of his comments being mis-interpreted by black-and-red fans, adding potentially another layer of difficulty to his task by turning the Barra et al against him. IMHO, a really, REALLY poorly timed set of comments from Luci.

Posted by: Throwin64 | May 1, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Who was coaching Herculez Gomez at KC?

Posted by: sitruc | May 1, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Fitness should not be an issue with Luciano. He doesn't run anyway. What he does is have a good sense of where the big white rectangle is, and how to expend energy efficiently for 3/4 of a second to place the ball in it. Not enough to win a championship, but better than what we have right now.

Posted by: granadoskerry | May 1, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

My spidey sense tells me he will be hitting the skids again in July. If DCU ends up guaranteeing him money for 2011, then the front office really needs to be seized by force.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 1, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

It would be totally unrealistic to expect any other outlook from Emilio. He's been a mercenary his entire career. It doesn't lessen my opinion of him, because I was never under any other impression. He gives his all for United, but he also gave his all at Olimpia, at Real Espana, etc. He'd give his all at the next club, too.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | May 1, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Onalfo is a trip. DCU brings back Moreno as a reserve, he scores in the preseason, and suddenly he's "the brains of our attack".

Emilio refuses to take "**** off" for an answer, and suddenly he's a "lethal attacker". I know Onalfo speaks a few languages; is it possible he confused "lethal" with "toxic"?

Emilio also had a chance to impress in Brazil this winter. Why don't you ask him what happened with that? Or how his "selfish b@st@rd" on-field persona is going to improve a mostly young team trying to find its identity?

IF he sees the field at all, I wish him success. It's encouraging that he feels he has to prove himself, I just hope he takes a different tack toward dealing with that pressure than he did last season. But I'm not overly optimistic.

Posted by: Godfather_of_Goals | May 1, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

If DCU ends up guaranteeing him money for 2011, then the front office really needs to be seized by force.

Posted by: dimesmakedollars | May 1, 2010 9:48 AM |

Guerrilla action? Cool. Count me in.

Posted by: fischy | May 1, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Meant to post this, in this thread not the last...

Gotta dig that Luci shirt out of the closet...
I got a dollar that says Emilio will have a greater impact than Gomez did coming back into the team after the incessant whining to bring him back. Who's taking that action?

Vamos United!
Beat the Brawndo FCtards!

Posted by: DadRyan

PS taking the LilRyan to the match today. Not a lot of time to tailgate with a kid turning 3 on Monday, but we'll be there rocking the black and red. Vamos United!

Posted by: DadRyan | May 1, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Emilio is delusional.

So far we've heard from him that he's wanted by every other team in MLS, Honduras, and now Mexico. A contract in hand? Right.

The dude needs to wake up and realize that his career is in a tailspin. The only thing that can fix that is production on the field.

Otherwise, I'd recommend Seroquel.

Posted by: delantero | May 1, 2010 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm not too concerned about Emilio's comments, both he and United have been negotiating hard and there might be some lingering tension. Luci comes from a very poor background in Brazil and doesn't have many years left to earn money as a soccer player.

If he shows a bad attitude on the field I'll be angry but if he works hard for the team and helps our offense I'll be happy. DC United has shown the ability to possess the ball on offense against teams like New England and Chicago, but the team has shown little ability to score goals or even create many chances.

Luci might help in that department.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | May 1, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

What a flurry at the close of the first half of the Villa-City match. City clearly had a penalty coming but that foul was a colossal brain fart by Warnock.

And speaking of colossal brain farts, that's precisely what a guaranteed 2011 contract for Emilio would be.

Posted by: benonthehill | May 1, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

DCU is deparate on all fronts: The team is terrible, the GM is a prevaricating incompetent, they have no stadium options that can reasonably associated with the Nation's capitol, and all they can do is turn to a 31-year striker with high mileage whom they repudiated many weeks ago, but now embrace as a savior.

Time to scorch the earth. Burn, baby, burn.

Posted by: lgm6986 | May 1, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

I wouldnt be surprised if he catches on in the mexican second division, they still pay decent there. He can earn a 300-400k paycheck if they see him worth it, as he was the leading scorer for Queretaro when he played there before, he has that going for him.

Not to mention the more space defenders give you in mexico compared to mexico, which is a plus for Emilio. He needs time and space, as that is what hurts him in MLS, not to mention the speed of play and physicality.

Emilio I think could do better in Mexico then MLS.... With that said, I dont expect much from emilio in these 3 months. I see 1-2 goals and him leaving in July to the second division of Mexico.

Posted by: BolivianDCFan | May 1, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Did we forget Perkins?

Posted by: Curious99 | May 1, 2010 9:18 PM | Report abuse

And before you point out that Perkins isn't an attacking player, let me point out that all the other players have only outscored him by 2 goals in league matches this season.

Posted by: Curious99 | May 1, 2010 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Yes, this time around Emilio will have a great first touch, outjump defenders, and complete his passes. Oh, and a solid midfield will be serving him a solid line of laser sharp passes... Puleeaase.

Luci doesn't have to worry about his future - he will make a great sports agent or labor negotiator or some sort of salesman.

Posted by: marcool | May 1, 2010 11:21 PM | Report abuse

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