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Christos shuts out Chicago in third round

Former UMBC goalkeeper Phil Saunders has three shutouts in three games of the 2017 US Open Cup.

It took only one minute for the miracle Christos FC amateur Sunday league club team to score what would prove to be the game-winner in Chicago against the PDL’s Chicago FC United.

It was a string of UMBC graduates on the strike with Joe Glos, booting the ball up to Pete Caringi III, who then set up Levi Houapeu for the quick goal. Christos FC won the game, 1-0, to set up the biggest game in the club’s history when they take on the MLS’ DC United on Tuesday, June 13 at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.

Chicago FC pressured Christos for most of the game and seemed to be on the brink of equalizing several times throughout the match, but another UMBC graduate, Phil Saunders, was a brick wall in goal and earned his third straight shutout in the 2017 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.

“Our guys know how to battle and can finish out games,” co-head coach Larry Sancomb said. “We did not have our best game and didn’t knock the ball as well as we usually do, but we still just fought and grinded out the game and found a goal early.”

Christos FC has beaten their three opponent by a 5-0 aggregate – topping Fredericksburg FC 3-0 on May 10, the USL’s Richmond Kickers, 1-0 last week, and now the PDL’s Chicago FC 1-0. Every goal scored has also been by a UMBC graduate, with Caringi netting the hat trick in their first game, Geaton Caltabiano scoring against the Kickers and Houapeu against Chicago FC.

Houapeu won a college soccer scoring championship and led UMBC to the NCAA Tournament at the start of the team’s current run as one of the premier college team’s in the country. He was shocking passed over by DC United in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft before getting picked up by the Philadelphia Union. An injury ended his MLS career, but he had continued his pro career with the Rochester Rhinos and Baltimore Blast before joining Christos.

Still, despite all the setbacks, Houapeu showed off his elite speed and nose for the goal with a tremendous all-around effort against Chicago FC, helping keep Christos balanced enough offensively to get the win.

“A lot of people missed out on Levi,” Sancomb said. “He’s getting up there in age now (27), but he’s such a talent. He’s a total player and really good team guy.”

Christos FC won a prize of $15,000 for being the last remaining amateur team in the field, which is now down to 32 teams. There were 17 fully amateur teams clubs in the tournament from its start.

DC United had won the Lamar Hunter US Open Cup three times and most recently in 2013 while claiming four MLS Cups since the league’s inception in 1996. Of course, with the date against an MLS team, Sancomb said his team is very excited, but not intimidated. Sancomb also said it is a great moment for Baltimore soccer altogether, especially with the game being placed in a place that will be easy for fans to attend.

“This is a big game for Baltimore, and I hope it connects the soccer community because it needs it,” he said. “Christos is one of the clubs where we really do connect with the majority of the programs in the area. We’re hoping to have a big turnout. It’s a big game for Baltimore.”

Before taking on DC United, Christos FC will participate in the Hank Steinbrecher Cup in Cleveland, Ohio. The Hanke Steinbrecher Cup serves as one of the Amateur soccer national championships and features the NPSL Champion AFC Cleveland, PDL Champion Michigan Bucks, the 2016 Hank Steinbrecher Champion, which coincidentally is Chicago FC United, and Christos FC as the reigning USASA Amateur Cup Champion.

Christos will play AFC Cleveland on Friday at 8 pm.

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Corey Johns

Editor in Chief
You could say Corey was born to become a sports journalist. His father won a national championship coaching college soccer. His mother is a baseball fanatic who hasn't missed seeing an Orioles game since 1983 (literally, sometimes it's annoying). His great uncle was a big-time boxing promoter and his maternal grandfather was once a department head at the Baltimore Sun. Basically, sports and journalism run through his blood. He played just about every little league sports there was when he was a kid and was a multi-sport athlete in high school; even playing in the first-ever high school sanction Rugby game in the country. Eventually he retired from sports as an undefeated Maryland state Rugby champion as a high school senior. Perhaps lack of athletic talent has more to do with the retirement, but he will tell you that it more had to do with a great desire to jump right into media. Upon his graduation from University of Maryland, Baltimore County as a triple communications major, Corey started the So Much Sports network and has continued to grow his websites and continues to work to make them premier sports media outlets.

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