- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The emergence of Francis Doe as a potential striker partner for Luciano Emilio might be the only positive to come out of a three-loss campaign in the 2008 SuperLiga for D.C. United.

The Liberian forward has scored three goals in four matches - two in three SuperLiga contests and one in a U.S. Open Cup win over Chicago on July 8. His efforts might have earned him a starting role against the Houston Dynamo in a makeup MLS game at RFK Stadium on Tuesday night.

Both of Doe’s SuperLiga goals came from near the 6-yard box. He right-footed Craig Thompson’s pass to score in the 3-2 loss to Atlante FC on July 15 and headed home Marc Burch’s fine cross in the 3-1 loss to the Dynamo on Saturday.

“When I first came here I didn’t understand the way of playing,” Doe sad. “[Coach Tom Soehn] has told me where to be - to get into the space - and it’s getting better for me.”

If Doe can start scoring in regular-season games, he will provide United with some attacking punch alongside Emilio. Veteran forward Jaime Moreno is filling the playmaking void in the midfield while Marcelo Gallardo remains sidelined with an injury. Outside of Gallardo, United is missing two other regulars to injury - midfielder Santino Quaranta and defender Gonzalo Peralta - making Doe’s emergence all the more important.

The 5-foot-8, 150-pound Doe has played in four MLS games and started once this season but has yet to score. He scored two goals in eight games for the New York Red Bulls last year and was acquired by United in April after the Red Bulls released him.

“He had a bad infection in his foot from the New York days,” Soehn said. “He’s gotten over that now, and his play is getting better. I think he still has to learn how to open the field up and when to take guys on, but when he is on the ball he is a handful.”

Doe missed a number of games when he was called up to play for Liberia in 2010 World Cup qualifying in June. His absence was prolonged when his passport went missing.

“The team manager of Liberia’s national team told me my passport had gone missing when we got back from Senegal, so I couldn’t come back on time,” Doe said.

Finally back with the team, Doe seems to be finding his niche. He said United could take some lessons away from the SuperLiga.

“The game is 90 minutes,” Doe said. “We can’t just play 50 minutes and just relax.”

Will he get to start Tuesday?

“I don’t know. I hope so,” Doe said.

Notes - The three SuperLiga losses interrupted a six-game unbeaten streak for United in MLS play. “In our last stretch of league play we were playing well, and that is what we have to pick up again,” Soehn said. …

Soehn has the option to play former San Jose midfielder Joe Vide, who joined the team July 16. …

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