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“This is what happens when you’re an MVP and you score that many goals,” Olsen told his teammate. “People are going to look at you. It’s a heavy jersey and a heavy responsibility.”

Kasper caught up with Emilio soon thereafter.

“Luci, you got to start enjoying yourself here,” he said. “You’re beating yourself up, and you got to start having fun again. We want to see your personality come out.”

The next weekend, on May 24, Toronto and United were tied 2-2 when United striker Santino Quaranta launched a shot in the 72nd minute.

Toronto goalkeeper Greg Sutton batted the ball to the turf but failed to notice Emilio charging in. Before Sutton could react, Emilio had rocketed the rebound past Sutton and was streaking down the field in celebration. He lifted his jersey - no longer weighted by unfulfilled expectations - and extended his arms. He smiled.

The drought was over. United was victorious for the first time in five weeks. Emilio was back.

“That [goal] really let me know that I was going down the right path and to keep moving forward,” said Emilio, who confided in his wife, Elenice, during his frustrating stretch. “As a player, you know you are always going to have those streaks, but that the streak has to end as well.”

On Tuesday, the club said it would begin negotiations to sign Emilio - who loves the D.C. area and plans to buy a bigger house for Elenice and Emily, the couple’s 20-month-old-daughter - to a long-term contract. He spends his days eating Brazilian food with fellow teammate and countryman Fred (they frequent Chima, a Brazilian eatery in Vienna), improving his English (Emilio is already fluent in Portuguese, Spanish and German) and attending church.

He still belts out “You’re Beautiful” on occasion and is currently working on his own rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“He doesn’t know any of the words, so he makes stuff up that sounds right,” Olsen said.

Long after practice ended Tuesday afternoon, Emilio still sat in the team media room inside RFK. Finally, he rose from his seat, and lowering a pair of Ray Bans over his eyes, prepared to step out into the mid-day glare. There was still so much left for him to do - more questions to answer and cameras to pose for, more goals to score and teams to leapfrog in the standings. As he turned for the hallway, defender Marc Burch greeted him in a weary monotone.

“Hey … Luc …,” Burch said.

“Hey!” shrieked Luciano, beaming as if he hadn’t seen his teammate in years. “My friend!”