Christos FC continued its Cinderella run in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup with a narrow 1-0 road win over the PDL’s Chicago FC United.
By the end of the night, Christos FC was the last amatuer team still standing in the tournament, which earns them a $15,000 cash prize. The win also makes them the 13th amateur team in the Modern Era (1995-present) to reach the Fourth Round, where they will play D.C. United of Major League Soccer on June 14.
“It was a great team effort from all the players and coaches,” said Christos FC founder and general manager Jody Haislip. “Couldn’t have envisioned a better start to the game but sometimes that bites you in the ass. You kind of want to sit back and rest on the lead but the guys didn’t do that and we still generated a few solid opportunities.”
Christos FC opened the scoring in the first minute off a throw-in from the right corner. The long throw found the head of Peter Caringi, who won TheCup.us Player of the Round honors for his hat trick in Round 1 against Fredericksburg FC (NPSL). Caringi flicked the ball to the back post where Levi Houpeau was able to force the ball into the back of the net.
Houpeau, who was a Third Round MLS SuperDraft pick by the Philadelphia Union out of Maryland-Baltimore County, scored his first career US Open Cup goal, and it proved to be the difference.
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The first half was a very physical affair with fouls from both sides disrupting the flow of play. In the 32nd minute, Caringi would muscle off a defender before curling a shot around the keeper and into the net, only to be ruled offside by the assistant referee.
Mark Segbers would be the lone attacking threat for Chicago FC United in the first half, working his way into the box from the left side to generate two shots on goal, but he was unable to beat Phil Saunders, last round’s top performer.
Momentum would switch in the second half when United midfielder Chris Mueller would hit a dipping shot from the top of the box that Saunders would nudge just over the bar. From that point on, United would keep the ball in the offensive half for most of the match, forcing Christos to rely on the long ball. Segbers and Mueller would generate several chances through link-up play, but only to be turned away by Saunders time and time again.
After 90 minutes of play, a visibly exhausted Christos side would weather the storm from United and advance 1-0.
After three straight road wins in the club’s first-ever trip to the tournament, they will play a fourth road game in Round 4. Although, fortunately, that road game will be in their home state when they face D.C. United at the Maryland Soccerplex in Boyds, Maryland.
For Christos, the fact that they started the day one win away from a game against a Major League Soccer team was a little hard to ignore.
“When the Fourth Round draw was announced it definitely was a ‘wow’ moment,” said Haislip, who started the club back in 1997. “It just had to be D.C. [United]. If it were the [Philadelphia] Union or another club it would still be the biggest game of our lives but to go up against them will be what Baltimore soccer needs and wants. The entire city of Baltimore and surrounding areas will be behind us and we will put an forth an effort that they will be proud of win or lose.”