They usually play just for the love of the game, but thanks to an unlikely string of success, now they’re playing for a whole lot more.
If you’re going to be the best, you might as well look your best. And this is the best Christos Football Club has looked, well, ever. Seriously
When’s the last time they all had new, matching uniforms?
“Probably never,” says Christos captain Chris Ports.
They are Christos F.C. The ragtag bunch of guys that play in the Maryland Major Soccer League. They only play. They have regular full-time jobs so they don’t practice. Until Monday night.
When is the last time they had a practice?
“With Christos? Never,” answered Christos midfielder Geaton Caltabiano.
“We show up on Sundays, we see each other on the weekends mostly at the bars, and just show up to games and go out there to play and try to win,” said Ports.
Christos is gearing up for its biggest game in its 20-year history. Tuesday night they play D.C. United. Yes, the Major League Soccer franchise. The two teams will meet in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup, which is the nation’s oldest soccer tournament.
“This is like the Orioles playing some men’s baseball or little rec. softball team that had just said ‘Hey, let’s put it together and let’s go see if we can advance against these best players.’ That’s what we’ve done,” said Christos co-coach Larry Sancomb. “We’re actually getting the opportunity of every bar guy, local, that’s always thinking they can do it. These guys have actually got to that point.”
99 teams from nine different leagues started in the tournament. Only 32 remain. Christos is the last amateur team alive. They get their name from their sponsor, a liquor store near BWI. Their adult league trophies are stacked on top of the ice chest inside.
The buzz at the store Monday had nothing to do with spirits and everything to do with soccer.
Players on the squad range in age from 23 to 30. They’re not expecting to beat some of the best professionals in the country’s best league are they?
“We’re going (into the game) to get a win,” said Caltabiano. “Obviously we’re playing an MLS team that trains every day. So, I think the longer we stay in the game the more tight and nervous and anxious they’ll get.”
Even if their luck runs out on Tuesday, this is already a win for Christos F.C. As the last remaining amateur team in the tourney they've already earned a $15,000 prize, travel money and a deal with Adidas for brand new uniforms.
Their Cinderella story continues Tuesday night, 7:30 p.m., at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County.