United Notebook

Club Plans Negotiations To Sign Emilio to Deal

United reserve Domenic Mediate, above, spent Monday watching on TV as his distant cousin Rocco nearly upset Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open playoff.
United reserve Domenic Mediate, above, spent Monday watching on TV as his distant cousin Rocco nearly upset Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open playoff. (By Charles Krupa -- Associated Press)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 18, 2008

After rebuffing a Mexican club's overtures about high-scoring Luciano Emilio, D.C. United officials said yesterday that they plan to enter negotiations next month with the Brazilian striker about a long-term contract extension.

"We told him we would clarify his situation this summer," United General Manager Dave Kasper said. "Our objective is to keep him."

Emilio registered his first MLS hat trick last Saturday in front of an RFK Stadium crowd of 18,622 that included Luis Fernando Tena, coach of Mexican club Morelia, and one of his assistants.

Morelia first showed interest in Emilio last winter after he won the MLS scoring title with 20 regular season goals and was named the league MVP. At the time, United had no intention of selling him, but when Emilio slipped into a prolonged scoring slump this spring, his departure during the summer transfer window (July 15 to Aug. 15) seemed more likely.

With six goals in the past four matches, however, Emilio has regained his standing with United and some leverage for a new contract. He had wanted to renegotiate his deal last winter, but settled for only a 7 percent increase to $313,000.

In an attempt to motivate Emilio during his slump, the club last month upgraded his figure to $453,125. Yet he still makes considerably less than several MLS players, including teammate Marcelo Gallardo, who will earn nearly $1.9 million this season.

"He wants to stay here, but salary wise, he has to be compensated fairly," said Alexander Solis, Emilio's agent. "It's only fair."

Said Emilio, through an interpreter: "We had an agreement that there was a possibility of a transfer in the summer, and if that didn't happen, we would talk about a new contract. . . . The contract offer [from Morelia] was very attractive to me. I want to discuss with United a similar contract."

United holds an option on Emilio's contract next year, but in reality, if he continues to score at a consistent pace and a new agreement is not reached, it would be difficult for the partnership to continue.

Emilio is tied with Dallas's Kenny Cooper for third in the MLS scoring race with seven goals, trailing the Los Angeles tandem of Landon Donovan (nine) and Edson Buddle (eight).

Rooting Interest

United reserve Domenic Mediate spent Monday in front of a TV with visiting family watching distant cousin Rocco nearly upset Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open playoff in San Diego.

"There was a point when he fell three [shots] behind Tiger, we were just like, 'Ah, here it goes,' " said Domenic, a University of Maryland graduate who watched at his Arlington home with his parents and one of his three younger brothers. "It was good to see him gather himself and keep truckin', and Tiger let him back in."

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