Breaking News:

So Much Sports Baltimore has officially shut down on August 7, 2017, but would like to thank all of our readers, writers and everybody who helped make this website possible.

For Levi, CFC run is just a chance to keep playing

Levi Houapeu coaches a youth team at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyd, where his Christos FC team will play DC United on Tuesday.

If you ever saw Levi Houapeu play soccer in college at UMBC, you knew he was an exceptional talent. Houapeu was an All-American in college. He won a scoring title and led the Retrievers to an NCAA Tournament appearance and the program’s first national postseason victory. When the Philadelphia Union picked him in the third round of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft, it was figured to be just the start of a great professional career.

It just wasn’t meant to be, however. An injury ended his rookie season, and the Union ended up letting him go after just one year. His international status, a native of Ivory Coast, and the MLS’ limited number of roster spots available for international players did not make it easy for him to stick around either. From there, he returned to Baltimore and played with the MILS club Baltimore Blast. He gave outdoor soccer one last shot, signing with the USL Pro Rochester Rhinos, but again, it just wasn’t meant to be.

For many, having that dream come so close, but never fully come to would be good enough reason to give up on the sport. But for him, he never let all his adversity take away from his love and passion for the game of soccer. That it why he ended up joining Christos FC.

Many of his friends were playing pickup games on the weekends for the amateur side. It was a far way from playing in the MLS, but it was still a chance for him to go out, play some soccer and be with who he called his “brothers.”

Christos plays most of their games at Latrobe Park in Locust Point, which is just around the corner from the inner harbor. That’s quite a haul up the highway for Houapeu, who lives in Germantown and is now an accountant for a real estate management company in Washington DC. But it’s worth it for him to make that trip so he can keep on playing with and against all of his friends.

“Five years ago if you would have told me I would be playing for an amateur team I would have told you, you were out of your mind,” he said. “But I just joined the team to enjoy playing with my friends.”

With Christos, Houapeu has gotten back to his star form. Against Chicago FC, he was the best player on the field, showcasing the speed and explosiveness he still has running up and down the field and his great nose for the goal. Houapeu scored in the first minute of that game.

“Levi is a special man. He’s a great guy,” Christos co-head coach Larry Sancomb said. “Our guys love him. He’s such a talent. He’s a total player and really good team guy. The guys respect him so much.”

What’s made him even more dangerous now at 27-years-old is his field awareness. Houapeu’s one big negative when he was coming out of college six years ago was his defense. He would go toward the goal but could get caught on defense. Now, he’s just a strong of a defender as he is a scorer. He’s still predominantly a striker, but when the team has to shuffle the lineup based on when players are available, he does have to play in the midfield. He’s even played on the back line for Christos, and he doesn’t look uncomfortable at all.

“The older you get, the smarter you become as a player, and I feel like I know a lore more than when I was younger on the field,” Houapeu said.

But still, the thing fueling him is both his love for the game. Houapeu has an infectious sort of wide smile that he’s always grinning then he’s playing. Especially now.

Houapeu certainly should be considered one of the players on Christos FC who still has pro prospects, but the opportunity coming on Tuesday against DC United isn’t something he’s necessarily looking at as a way to get another look from an MLS team. If it happens, it happens, but he’s just simply going out and play soccer to the best of his ability. That’s why he joined Christos, to have fun playing the game he loves with his friends.

“I never would have imagined we could have ever qualified even for the first round of the US Open Cup,” he said. “I just find it great that this is part of it and now that we are here in the fourth round it’s amazing and fun. It’s a wonderful journey and has been a wonderful story, but we just want to keep going. I don’t think we’re just going to the game expecting to lose. We are just going on the field to play with our brothers. That’s what we’re looking forward to.

“I’m just having a good time with my brothers. I don’t see it as an opportunity to prove I can play in the league but it’s just a good journey for us to write another chapter of our life and hopefully be the amateur team who doesn’t practice and somehow is able to come together and play against anyone.”

The following two tabs change content below.

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.

Latest posts by Corey Johns (see all)

Comments are closed.