Though he had a clear impact in DC United’s 2-2 tie last night with Columbus, don’t look for newly-signed Lucio Filomeno to see much time during the 2005 MLS playoffs as he continues to recover from a knee injury and DC United coach Peter Nowak integrates him with the rest of the team.
"We wanted to give him a couple of minutes," Nowak said. "I think–he played the last 20 minutes–I think he did very, very good. He’s a smart player. We don’t see, sometimes the runs he makes between the defenders. We have to work on that. We don’t have enough time, as I said, and we can work 24/7, and still, [that’s] not going to be enough to be on the same page."
Filomeno, who came off the bench in the 68th minute for Jamil Walker in his debut, said he’s still feeling the lingering affects from a knee injury he suffered three months ago and commented on the physical nature of the match.
"I think it’s so physical, so strong," Filomeno said. "The defenders are so strong. In my case, I’m injured. I have been injected in the knee [with a cortizone shot] because of my injury. For me, it’s difficult in this moment because of the injury."
Filomeno, who received his work permit and international transfer certificate, was knocked down in the box by the Crew’s Jamal Sutton, earning a penalty that Jaime Moreno converted for United.
"To play in this country, I suppose all over the world, actually, you have to be prepared physically, and then you can play. … If you are not in good condition, fitness, it will be hard. In my case, tonight, my last match was three months ago. With this injury, [for] several reasons, it was difficult. But I have to keep on going, get better."
The new forward, wearing the number seven shirt, has a lot of international experience for just being 25-years old, having played in his native Argentina, Italy, Mexico and, most recently, South Korea, where he scored six times in 15 matches in the K-League for Busan.
In 2002, Filomeno played with Jaguares de Chiapas of Mexico, spending two season there and scoring 13 goals in 68 appearances. There, he became a fan favorite and was a teammate of current LA Galaxy midfielder Giillermo "Pando" Ramirez.
When playing with Nueva Chicago in 1996 in the Argentine second division, Filomeno played alongside current teammate Christian Gomez. Filomeno spent two seasons there before moving to Italy, spending time but not appearing in any matches for Serie A teams Udinese and Inter Milan. He spent three seasons after that in the Argentine first division, scoring four goals in 21 appearences over three yeras before moving onto Mexico.
"We’ve anxiously awaited the opportunity to see Lucio in action," said United technical director Dave Kasper in a press release announcing the signing. "With the playoffs looming, we aspire to have all facets of our club functioning at a high level."
Filomeno, whose locker is to the left of teen star Freddy Adu, is ready to play in mind, if not body. Clearly, he got the attention of the Columbus defenders, who fouled Filomeno on his first three touches, the last giving Moreno a key penalty to tie the match.
"He came on pretty focused," Moreno said. "He came on with a great attitude and he got us a penalty, so he was very positive."
The Argentine said he, like many others this season, had difficulty adjusting to RFK Stadium’s surface. Because of the stadiums dual baseball and soccer use, for soccer matches, the patched up areas in the north end infield pose problems for players.
"The ground is so, so bad, so you can’t stop the ball," Filomeno said of playing on the patched-up surface. "It’s like patchy. It was difficult to play … where the baseball’s played," Filomeno said. "It was difficult; it was impossible to play," citing the unpredictable bounces the ball takes on that part of the field.
Even Filomeno, for not being around the team very long, is very much in tune with the importance of the playoffs.
"Now we have the quarterfinals, it’s a difficult match," Filomeno said of the upcoming series with Chicago. "We have to correct a lot of things."
Filomeno said it will be difficult for him to acclimate himself with his teammates and with trying to play while not 100 percent, but he’s willing to make a go of it.
"This injury, it’s getting better everyday, but it’s difficult," Filomeno said. "The circumstances now–the end of the season, the most difficult part of the season. It’s hard for me, but it’s not impossible. I have to try. I have to try and keep on going and never stop."