- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Luciano Emilio says he was not benched in D.C. United’s 3-1 loss at Chivas USA and expects to be back in the starting lineup tonight at Toronto FC.

“I just want to clarify that the last game I was injured,” the striker said yesterday through a translator. “That was one of the reasons I was not in the starting lineup. I feel better now and expect to be in the starting lineup.”

Coach Tom Soehn declined to comment on Emilio’s performance in the Chivas game or whether the forward would start tonight.

Emilio, who has just one goal in eight games after scoring a league-high 20 last year, blames his drought on the team’s failure to jell after numerous personnel changes in the offseason.

“Last year we had better chemistry because all the players knew each other well,” said Emilio, last season’s MLS MVP. “Myself, Christian [Gomez] and Jaime [Moreno] — we had a lot of options to attack. … I’m not down on myself right now. I’m just trying to do my work and hopefully will get enough service in the box to be able to convert.”

Meanwhile, Soehn was upbeat about United (2-6-0, six points), which has lost three consecutive games and remains last in MLS’ Eastern Conference.

“As soon as this team gets it, I wouldn’t want to play against us, and we are getting real close,” he said.

United plays back-to back games against FC Toronto (3-2-2, 11 points), beginning tonight on the synthetic turf at BMO Field before returning to RFK Stadium on Saturday.

The good news for United is that two injured players — midfielder Fred (hamstring) and defender Devon McTavish (foot) — are probable for the game. United has not won on the road in 11 games, including all competitions.

“This game can be a season-changer,” forward Santino Quaranta said.

Toronto is 2-0-2 at home and has given up just one goal at BMO Field.

The club started the season with three defeats, including a 4-1 loss to United at RFK, but has since gone on a five-game unbeaten streak after adding former 2004 MVP Amado Guevara and French ace Laurent Robert to its roster.

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