GERMANTOWN, Md. – Soccer’s true charm lies not in the grind of league competition, but in cup matchups such as Tuesday night’s tasty affair between a top-flight team (D.C. United) and a band of brothers with amateur status and big hearts (Baltimore’s Christos FC).
Full professionals squared off against a loan officer, a plumber, an X-ray technician and a sales rep in a pastoral little stadium shadowed by a barn and surrounded by endless rows of youth fields.
With hundreds of visiting supporters outfitted in neon-green T-shirts watching, Christos took a shock lead before running out of steam down the stretch and falling to the heavily favored MLS team, 4-1.
United did not go ahead until the 81st minute against its wilting foes. Lloyd Sam broke the tie, Julian Buescher scored his second of the night in the 90th, and Ian Harkes notched his first pro goal on the last touch of a compelling match before 5,286 at Maryland SoccerPlex in Montgomery County.
“As we grow as a soccer country,” D.C. Coach Ben Olsen said, “this is going to happen more and more – better quality amateurs out there that can make these types of runs. What’s great about the Open Cup is that these stories can happen.”
United advanced to the round of 16 in the 103-year-old tournament, which features American teams from all levels of soccer. Before the establishment of fully pro teams, the Open Cup was ruled by industrial and ethnic clubs, such as Bethlehem Steel, Robins Dry Dock and Brooklyn Italians.
Christos, a 20-year-old club sponsored by a discount liquor store located near BWI airport, was the last amateur team left in this…
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