For 10 minutes, Christos FC, the Baltimore amateur team sponsored by a liquor store, led D.C. United and with less than 10 minutes to play, they were still even before the MLS club pulled away with
three goals for a 4-1 win in the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
A goal on a free kick by Mamadou Kansaye gave Christos FC the lead in the 23rd minute and sent its
green-clad supporters streaming from those in the capacity crowd of 5,286 at the Maryland SoccerPlex to the end zone, where they celebrated with Kansaye, a former UMBC star, and the other Christos FC
Julian Buescher equalized for United 10 minutes
later but Christos FC hung with its MLS club until running out of gas in the last 10 minutes. Sub Lloyd Sam put United ahead in the 81st minute before Buescher added his second goal and Ian
Harkes, another sub, scored his first goal since signing with United.
“[Christos] came out with a bunch of energy and commitment," said United coach Ben Olsen, "and they
have a few dynamic players. These matches are never easy … it doesn’t matter who you play … and the Open Cup is always a circus. Ian and Lloyd affected the game well, and now we
live to fight another day.”
Christos FC doesn't train, but fitness isn't usually an issue in its Maryland league, where teams are allowed seven subs. Teams are only allowed
three subs in the Open Cup.
"These guys train every day," Christos FC co-coach Bryan Bugarin said of D.C. United, "and that's the key with them, I think. You could just tell we had
tired legs at the end."
But Bugarin said his players weren't intimidated.
"As far as soccer-wise," he said, "we've never gone in saying, 'Hey, we can't play with
somebody.' We have a lot of guys who actually played in the USL, guys who were drafted." Christos FC doesn't train, but fitness isn't usually an issue in its Maryland league, where teams are allowed
Olsen said the Christos FC run created a lot of good publicity
for amateur soccer -- he told Bugarin he turned on the local news Monday night to get away from the game and the first thing he saw on the sports was a story about Christos FC -- and will be
duplicated in the future.
"There are going to be more, better-quality amateur teams that can make these kinds of runs," he added, "and that’s what's great about the Open Cup. These
stories can happen, and I’m sure they will happen even more in the future. As the amateurs get better, so does our league, so does USL, and NASL, and so on. The bigger picture is that soccer in
this country is continuing to move at a good pace and is getting better every year."