Luciano Emilio, D.C. United join forces again

D.C. United hopes Luciano Emilio will spark a lethargic offense that has scored two goals in four games.
D.C. United hopes Luciano Emilio will spark a lethargic offense that has scored two goals in four games. (Jonathan Newton/the Washington Post)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 29, 2010

Luciano Emilio and D.C. United are together again.

After seemingly parting ways over the winter, the winless MLS club and 2007 league MVP agreed to a three-month contract Wednesday. It includes a club-held option that could keep him in Washington for the entire season.

Pending approval of his international transfer certificate, the Brazilian striker will become eligible to play for a D.C. squad that has scored just two goals in four regular season losses. Emilio, 31, might be cleared in time for Saturday's match against the New York Red Bulls at RFK Stadium.

"He is a proven commodity in the league," General Manager Dave Kasper said. "We know what he is about and he is very motivated."

Under terms of the agreement, United will decide this summer whether to retain him for the remainder of the year. The club is actively searching overseas for attacking help -- technical director Chad Ashton is in South America this week -- and positioning itself for a possible major acquisition when the international transfer window reopens in mid-July.

The results of that search, combined with Emilio's production and other team factors, will determine his future.

Keeping Emilio and signing a new player appears possible as well.

Emilio had 41 regular season goals in three years, but his production dropped each season. During the winter, with his contract expired, Emilio joined Rio Branco in Brazil. Although he and United were unable to reach agreement on a new pact, D.C. retained his MLS rights and attempted to trade him. During the process, Kasper said repeatedly that United had no intention of retaining him.

One potential deal fell through, and with few other options, Emilio lowered his asking price. Laboring to produce goals, United restarted negotiations last week.

Emilio, who earned a team-high $758,000 last year, accepted a huge pay cut to return. Kasper declined to reveal the figure but said it is "very modest money" and that it will not have a significant impact on the salary cap. To create roster space, United plans to place defender Marc Burch, who is sidelined for several months following foot surgery, on injured reserve.

Asked why United decided to reverse course and reacquire Emilio, Kasper cited the player's softer demands and recent hamstring injuries to forwards Chris Pontius and Danny Allsopp. The club's offensive shortcomings -- it has been shut out in three of four league matches -- undoubtedly factored into the decision.

United note: The club announced that it has completed negotiations to play the Scottish champion Glasgow Rangers in a July 24 friendly at RFK. The Rangers roster includes American midfielders Maurice Edu (University of Maryland) and DaMarcus Beasley.

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