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Christos confident heading into DC United game

On paper, it’s a huge mismatch: Christos FC, an amateur Sunday beer league team, playing against the top-tier professional MLS team DC United. But not a single Christos FC player will tell you they are expecting to lose when they play the big team from the nation’s capital on Tuesday, June 13 at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds.

“You can ask anyone on this team. I don’t think anybody expects to lose,” said wing forward Levi Houapeu, who scored the team’s lone goal in their third round victory over Chicago FC. “I don’t think anybody is saying we’re going to go into the game and lose. We all think we’re going to the game and have a chance to win.”

That’s just how athletes are mentally wires. The second they have any doubt, the game is already finished. It’s not arrogance; it’s just confidence and belief in themselves and the team. That is something this Christos FC team has plenty of and for good reasons.

They weren’t supposed to beat the professional USL Richmond Kickers in the second round, but they did 1-0. They haven’t even had the same lineup every game because guys haven’t been able to get off work and travel to all the games, but Christos has three straight shutout victories on their way into the fourth round.

“We just go on the field and battle,” Houapeu said. “We expect to win every game, whether we play an amateur team or a semi-pro team or a professional team. We go on the field to have fun, but at the same time we go in to win.”

And behind this miracle team is the entire Baltimore Soccer community, a community that is very proud, loud and can be rowdy when it comes to supporting their teams. As a city without a pro or semi-pro team, Christos has been adopted as Charm City’s top side. And while Tuesday may be a home team for DC United, there are already bus trips being scheduled down to the game and plenty of excitement going around in Baltimore.

“The whole Baltimore soccer community is going to drag it down there,” goalkeeper Phil Saunders said. “I don’t know what the capacity is for it but all my friends and family are going and there are bus trips coordinated. It’s buzzing around the Baltimore soccer community.

“This is like a local derby. We’re all amped for it. It is close enough where we can get more than five or 10 fans to it. We’re looking forward to t and looking forward to the support.”

For Houapeu, it literally is a home game. He lives less than a mile away from the SoccerPlex. He also coaches a youth team there and walks to the field from his house.

“For me, I feel like I’m playing in my backyard,” he said. “My whole entire family is coming. I have a whole bunch of friends, all my coaches from the youth level, all the coaches who have coached me, everybody from church. Pretty much the whole town is coming. I know it’s a home game for DC United, but Christos will feel like it’s a home game because all our families are coming. We’re looking forward to that.”

And no, Christos FC won’t start practicing to prepare for DC United. Saunders said the team would if they could, but getting enough players to one area at one time in the evening and working around their family and work lives just make it too impossible. So, they’re just doing it “the Christos way.”

Saunders said there will be no change to how they approach this game. They’re going to drive down to the game, many of them in one van together, while some will get there separately, some fighting rush hour traffic after they get off work at 5 pm to get there in time for their 7:30 pm kickoff. Then, they’ll set their lineup and go over their game plan in the moments before kickoff.

It’s certainly not a suggested strategy in any basic coach’s guide, but that’s the best way they can do it, and it had worked out for them so far.

And when you say there is zero pressure on Christos FC, there is absolutely zero pressure.

“Everybody is excited, the fans are, but at the end of the day we’re still the underdogs,” Saunders said. “There is no reasons we should even be close to playing these big teams the MLS churns out. It’s fun, we’re looking to go out and have fun and we’ll see what happens.”

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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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