D.C. United is heading into the final few weeks of the regular season with four quality forwards and the second highest-scoring attack in MLS.
So why was Lucio Filomeno, a 25-year-old Argentine striker with an impressive resume and a sore knee, at the RFK Stadium training grounds yesterday?
"He's a solid, young player who was available," technical director Dave Kasper said. "These opportunities don't always come along. We believe he's going to help us this year and moving forward next year."
Although Filomeno agreed to a multiyear contract and joined his new teammates for the first time yesterday, he must await a work permit and international clearance before becoming eligible to play. He is also recuperating from a minor knee injury suffered two weeks ago while playing in an informal game in Argentina.
Team officials, who won't announce the acquisition until those hurdles are cleared, are hoping he will be available for the Oct. 8 home match against the MetroStars -- the penultimate game in the regular season.
His background is striking: teenage training with Argentine club Nueva Chicago; a year in Italy with Udinese and then Inter Milan as an understudy to Brazilian superstar Ronaldo; three years with San Lorenzo in Argentina; a few seasons with Jaguares in Mexico; and a recent stint with Busan in the modest Korean league.
He had hoped to return to Europe this past summer, but couldn't finalize a deal. Terms of his MLS contract weren't disclosed, but United will have the option of retaining him this winter. The club did not have to pay a transfer fee.
"It is the end of the season here, so it will not be easy for me because I have so little time," said Filomeno, who hasn't played in a meaningful game since July when the Korean season ended. "It's hard, but not impossible."
As United's season has progressed, Jaime Moreno and Santino Quaranta have emerged as the club's top forwards and Jamil Walker and Freddy Adu as capable reserves. But none is an outright striker, a role that hasn't been filled since Alecko Eskandarian was sidelined with a concussion in mid-June.
Moreno and Quaranta are creative forces, while Walker and Adu rely on their speed and flair to generate opportunities.
Eskandarian, a deadly scorer last year, has resumed light workouts, but a return this season appears unlikely.
Filomeno "looks promising," Coach Peter Nowak said. "His background is quite good, and with Alecko being out, we cannot afford to put ourselves in a [difficult] position as we make sure everything is in place for the playoffs."
United (14-9-5) would clinch a playoff berth by beating the MetroStars (10-8-10) on Saturday night at Giants Stadium, but if it fails, D.C. could wrap it up next Wednesday at Real Salt Lake (5-19-4).
"He is strong, has scored goals everywhere he's played, and technically is very good," Kasper said of Filomeno. However, "he's going to have to come in and prove himself and earn his playing time."
Soccer Notes: Silver Spring's Kevin Alston, the starting right back on the U.S. under-17 national team, is recovering from two broken bones in his lower leg. He suffered the injury during the Americans' 2-0 loss to the Netherlands on Monday in the quarterfinals of the under-17 world championship in Peru.
His father, Larry, said in an e-mail from Peru that his son, who has committed to play at Indiana University next year, will be sidelined for about three months.