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?)
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
1998-99: 36 goals in 55 regular season games
2002: 0 goals in 12 games
2004-2007: 39 goals, 29 assists in 97 games
2009: 6 goals, 4 assists in 27 games
2001-06: 14 goals, 13 assists in 62 games
2008-present: 8 goals, 10 assists in 53 games
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?
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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