Winning scoring titles and team championships is nothing new for D.C. United forward Luciano Emilio. Doing it on U.S. soil is.
A distinct combination of talent and perseverance has enabled Emilio to play soccer at an elite level no matter where in the world his career has taken him. The electrifying Brazilian started playing fútbol at the tender age of 16 with XV de Piracicaba, a team in Sao Paulo.
After enjoying moderate success throughout his early years, Emilio finally broke through while playing for teams in the Honduran league. In 2003, he began having a major impact on the soccer world, as he won the league scoring title while leading his Real Espana squad to the Apertura Championship. The next year, he laced ’em up for Olimpia with similar results, claiming another scoring title.
After two years in Mexico, where he helped Washington’s Queretaro earn the 2005 Clausura championship, Emilio embarked on his voyage to the U.S., signing with D.C. United in early 2007. “I thought it was a good opportunity to play here and provide a better future for me and my family,” he says.
It didn’t take long for the fleet-footed forward to make his presence felt. During the 2007 season, Emilio led the MLS with 20 goals, winning not only the MLS Golden Boot award [regular season leading scorer], but also the league’s Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year honors. The following season ended with fewer accolades, but he remained D.C. United’s most productive forward.
Emilio’s consistently stellar play can be attributed in part to his work with D.C. United’s head athletic trainer and S&C coach, Brian Goodstein. Goodstein uses an in-season circuit to help Emilio and his teammates maintain season-long strength and stay injury-free. “We do it once or twice a week with our entire team,” Goodstein says. “We use it for regeneration and also [as] a maintenance program to prevent injuries. We break it up into a speed, a core and a total body strengthening program.”
Explaining the benefits of Goodstein’s program, Emilio simply says, “It helps me a lot because we [train] two times a week and [my body] is feeling very good and strong for games.” His solid training program and continued success on the pitch may bring Emilio’s globetrotting to an end.
Goodstein’s In-Season Circuit Rules
1. Set up all exercises before you begin, so you can go through without interruption
2. Perform each exercise for 20 seconds
3. Rest 30-40 seconds before moving on to the next exercise
4. Perform circuit twice, resting one to two minutes between sets
5. Perform circuit once or twice a week
• On Leg Extension Machine, raise weight until legs are fully extended; hold
• Lower with control until knees are bent almost 90 degrees; repeat
Coaching points: Don’t rush exercise; go through full range of motion // Briefly hold contraction at top of movement // Bring legs down to 90 degrees and lift to full extension
Goodstein: [This exercise is like a repetitive kicking motion], so keeping their legs strong in the final 15 degrees is important.
Step-Up Knee Drive
• Holding med ball in front, place left foot on box and drive through box explosively
• As you reach full extension with left leg, drive right knee up and press med ball overhead
• Return to start; repeat on opposite side
• Continue in alternating fashion
Coaching points: Use box height that brings knee to 90-degree angle when foot is on it // Keep head up and core tight
Goodstein: [This] works on separation of the hips, which helps with overall speed.
• On Leg Curl Machine, contract hamstrings to bring heels to butt; hold
• Lower weight with control; repeat
Coaching points: Briefly hold contraction at top of movement // Keep movement slow and controlled // Go through full range of motion
Goodstein: The Leg Curls are a basic exercise for the hamstrings. Soccer players do lots of sprinting, [and] your hamstrings are a major muscle in decelerating your body when sprinting.
Lat Pull down
• Grip Lat Pulldown bar slightly further than shoulder width with palms facing away from body
• Pull bar down until it almost touches upper chest
• Extend arms back to start; repeat
Coaching points: Pull bar down in front // Control weight on way up // Avoid rocking back excessively // Go through full range of motion
Goodstein: This is just a basic back, lat exercise; it complements our total-body training.
• On Seated Adductor Machine, move legs outward
• Return to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Control motion in both directions // Go through full range of motion // Use light weight
Goodstein: The stronger the adductors, the more force you can put on a kick.
Med Ball Back Extension
• On Back Extension Machine, hold med ball in front of chest
• Using hips and back, raise upper body until it forms straight line
• Lower to start; repeat
Coaching points: Perform slowly and with control // Use med ball no more than eight pounds // Go through full range of motion
Goodstein: Everything in soccer is so anterior-focused that we try to really work on [the] posterior kinetic chain. It keeps [the athlete] balanced to avoid overuse injuries.
Mini Hurdle Crossover
• Place three mini hurdles two feet apart
• Straddle first hurdle on left
• Step over second hurdle by crossing over left leg
• In continuous motion, straddle third hurdle with right leg outside
• Return to start position by crossing over with right leg; repeat exercise
Coaching points: Focus on quick feet and opening up hips // Perform as fast as possible
Goodstein: We’re working on the speed of the feet and changing direction. It also works on opening and closing your hips quickly.
• Lie with back on bench, gripping bar slightly further than shoulder width
• Keeping lower back on bench and elbows to sides, lower bar until it touches chest
• Drive bar up until arms are straight; repeat
Coaching points: Lower weight slowly while inhaling // Exhale when driving weight up // Go through full range of motion
Goodstein: This works on strengthening the pecs.
Single-Leg Bounce With Med Ball Toss
• In single-leg stance on trampoline positioned next to wall, hold med ball with arms fully extended overhead
• Continuously bounce while tossing ball into wall using hand opposite balancing leg
Coaching points: Keep head up and med ball overhead throughout exercise
Goodstein: We do repetitive jumps to get them used to landing [on one leg] and on an uneven surface.
Lateral Mini Hurdle High Knees
• Perform high knees laterally over mini hurdles
• Upon reaching end of hurdles, plant outside foot and go back through hurdles in opposite direction
Coaching points: Bring leg into high-knee position to go over hurdle // Use opposite arm, opposite leg action // Keep feet in flexed position // Perform as fast as possible
Goodstein: It’s a lateral speed drill working on hip changes, quick feet and change of direction.
Dumbell Lateral Raise/Front Raise Combo
• Hold dumbbell in each hand at sides, palms facing each other
• Raise dumbbells to sides until arms are parallel to floor; lower to start position
• Turn hands so palms face back; raise dumbbells in front until arms are parallel to floor
• Lower to start position; repeat pattern
• Repeat in alternating fashion
Coaching points: Use light weight // Do not allow body to sway // Keep head up and core tight throughout exercise
Goodstein: This keeps the shoulders and upper body strong, which helps keep off opponents.
Seated Machine Row
• Seated on Machine Row, pull shoulder blades together to bring weight back until wrists are in line with torso/ shoulders
• Slowly release weight to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Keep chest against pad throughout exercise // Perform slowly and with control // Lower weight until arms are fully extended
Goodstein: It’s a counterbalancing, total-body strengthening exercise.
• Lie on bench holding dumbbells with elbows slightly bent and out to sides
• Using chest muscles, bring dumbbells together overhead
• Lower back to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Exhale while bringing arms up, until dumbbells touch // Inhale while bringing arms down slowly // Keep elbows in same position throughout // Do not rush movement
Goodstein: [This] is a basic exercise to strengthen your pecs [to] hold people off … with an extended arm.
Physioball Bridge With Leg Raise
• Lie on back on ground with heels on center of physioball
• Raise body into straight line so only shoulder blades touch floor
• Keeping both legs straight, raise left leg
• Lower back to start position; raise right leg
Coaching points: Keep body straight and in bridge position throughout // Hold raised leg for 2 to 3 seconds
Goodstein: It’s a core stability exercise [that also] works on extension of the hip [and] strengthening the lower back.
• Assume athletic stance on right side of Slideboard
• Push off backstop with right foot
• Slide across board until left foot makes contact with opposite backstop
• Push off backstop with left foot to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Use glute and outside of hip to push while stabilizing with opposite adductor [groin] // Use upper body to help generate momentum
Goodstein: This is a power exercise that works on change of direction. We use it as a tool to get the glute medius to contract and to be able to change directions.
• Grasp handles of Dip machine and support body with straight arms
• Lower body with control until chest is at hand level
• Push body up until arms are straight; repeat
Coaching points: Perform slowly and with control // Lower body until elbows are bent 90 degrees // Avoid using body for momentum
Goodstein: This is a very functional exercise to work triceps and lower pecs.
Rope Tricep Pushdown
• Grab rope attachment, at shoulder level on Cable Machine
• Push down until arms are fully extended
• Return to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Keep elbows close to sides throughout movement // Go through full range of motion // Perform slowly and with control
Goodstein: Triceps are important for holding off and pushing off players.
Bodyweight Squat on Bosu
• Stand on Bosu with feet shoulder-width apart and arms extended fully forward
• Squat until legs are bent 90 degrees
• Return to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Balance on hard side of Bosu // Perform exercise in slow, controlled manner // Keep core tight throughout
Goodstein: Adding unstable surfaces will help you stabilize when your feet are on the ground around the ball, and opponents are pushing and tugging at you.
• Lie with back on ground, holding physioball overhead
• Keeping arms and legs straight, fold body up until hands and feet meet at midline of body
• Transfer ball to feet; lower legs and arms back to ground
• Continue passing ball between hands and feet
Coaching points: Come all the way up to V position with shoulder blades off ground // Perform slowly and with control // Transfer ball with each rep
Goodstein: It’s a total core strengthening exercise that focuses on keeping the abductors tight. If you have that as a strong base, you’ll be able to move more efficiently.
• On Leg Press Machine, place feet shoulder-width apart
• Lower weight sled with control, bringing knees to chest
• Drive weight up by extending legs to start position; repeat
Coaching points: Go through full range of motion // Perform slowly and with control
Goodstein: The Leg Press is one of the exercises we use for strengthening the glutes and quads.
• Begin with left foot on box in front and right foot on ground
• Continuously and rapidly switch position of feet for specified time
Coaching points: Alternate feet as quickly as possible // Focus eyes straight forward // Use running action with arms
Goodstein: This improves foot speed, [which is] important for changing direction with the ball.
• In front of Cable Machine, grip straight-bar attachment set at waist level with palms facing out
• Curl attachment up to shoulders; lower weight back to start; repeat
Coaching points: Perform slowly and with control // Do not allow body to rock // Keep elbows as close to body as possible // Go through full range of motion
Goodstein: To make some of the guys happy, we work the beach muscles.
• Sit on ground with knees bent, heels just off floor and holding med ball at chest
• Rotate left until ball touches ground outside hip; rotate right until ball touches ground outside hip
• Repeat pattern continuously
Coaching points: Touch ball to ground as far behind you as possible // Keep feet off ground throughout exercise // Do not rush movement
Goodstein: We’re working on the obliques, which are important for soccer with the amount of rotation and kicking that [the athletes] do.