(All Pictures are Credited to Kim Hairston from the Baltimore Sun)
Christos FC etched their name in US Open Cup history last year with a run to the fourth round of the historic tournament, before falling to MLS Franchise DC United 4-1. The scoreline didn’t tell the true story of the day with Christos FC actually going ahead on a first half free kick from Mamadou Kansaye that sent the fans in the packed Maryland SoccerPlex crazy before Julian Buescher scored off of a corner kick to send the teams level into halftime. Fitness proved to be the difference as the professional side struck 3 times in the final 10 minutes of the match to advance to the Quarterfinals, but for 80 minutes and the entirety of the 3 games beforehand Christos FC showed off not only their competitiveness but a blue collar work ethic that has always embodied successful Baltimore soccer teams. Christos received $15,000 for being the final amateur team to progress through in the Open Cup and have continued their dominance through to the 2017/18 season, posting a 24-1 record in games since the DC United loss while collecting 2017 Maryland Majors, 2018 Rowland MD State Cup and 2018 Stewart MD State Cup championships.
Heading into Christos FC’s opening game in the competition this year, a first round matchup with USL PDL side Reading United, I decided to take a look into the group of guys who will be tasked with making another run in 2018. Head Coach, Lawrence Sancomb is upbeat and excited as Christos FC comes back reloaded with a lot of new additions that he thinks will be a lot of help in spots where they didn’t have as much depth in, in previous years. Some of the new additions Sancomb highlighted were Tyler Rudy, a 4 year starter out of Georgetown who played professionally for a couple of years after graduating before joining Christos this fall, who he says can hold the ball really well and is just a great guy to have around in terms of leadership and personality. Malcolm Harris brings an important piece to the squad after Collin Fisher got injured and he will play a big role at outside back for the team and so to will 6’5 Salisbury alum, Larry Cornish who holds a very important athletic presence in the back. On the attacking side of things former MLS Supplemental Draft Pick, Joshua Patterson is in great form after initially taking a while to get used to the group but has killed it in regionals and playoffs since then. Last but not least Sancomb highlighted 4 year WVU alum, Jamie Merriam who he says is the best athlete of them all and will bring some big and important goals and has already done so for the team. Head Coach Sancomb says expectations wise they were happy as a team just to get through amateur qualifying and get into the full tournament. While the team is happy to be here, now that they have qualified they’ll be pretty confident going into each game they can win and know that while Reading is always a quality PDL side, Christos will have the advantage having played 20-25 games already together as a group through the year while the PDL team will be a group of guys just getting back from college and learning how to play with one another. All in all, Christos FC are excited and primed for another run at the US Open Cup in 2018, take a look below as we took a in depth look at the entire roster, showing this might not be a group of day in and out professionals but it is a group of guys who have played and starred at the highest level in the nation both collegiately and some professionally at a point.
Christos FC 2018 US Open Cup Roster
Malcolm Harris: Malcolm has been part of the Baltimore soccer scene for over 10 years now earning NSCAA All-American, All-State, First Team All-Metro, First team All-MIAA (twice) and Montgomery County All-Decade honors during a very successful high school career with Good Counsel & McDonogh HS. Malcolm also won a U15 USYS National Championship with the Baltimore Bays Chelsea, a team that produced many future pro’s, team before playing his first collegiate season with Denver, where he tallied scored 1 goal & had 5 assists as a freshman before transferring to UMBC for his final 3 years of eligibility. Malcolm went on to play 64 games in 3 years for the Retrievers, starting 52 of them, while scoring 3 times and adding 9 assists. Malcolm was a key part of the UMBC team that went all the way to the College Cup, scoring the infamous goal that took down Maryland at Ludwig Field in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. Malcolm’s senior year returned NSCAA All-Region, First team All-America East & Conference Defender of the Year honors. A new member to the Christos side in 2017/18, Malcolm will bring a lot of quality experience and will look to play a big role for Christos as they look to make another Cinderella run in the Open Cup.
Cody Albrecht: Albrecht played a huge role in last years run, holding down the midfield and looking very impressive throughout against DCU and will look to play another big role again in the center of the park for the amateur side in 2018. Albrecht is a former Gatorade Maryland Boys Soccer, Washington Post All-Met, WCAC and Prince George’s County Player of the Year award winner after tallying a state record 31 assists his senior year with DeMatha Catholic HS. Albrecht also was a member of the DC United Academy, winning back-to-back MLS SUM Cup Championships (today’s Generation Adidas Cup) before spending 4 years at St.John’s University where he would play 2 years but also miss 2 due to injuries. After completing his Bachelors with St.John’s, Cody transferred back home and played 36 games for the Terrapins in 2 years, captaining the 2016 team that infamously went 16-0-2 through the regular season while holding the #1 National Ranking from Week 2 of the regular season through the NCAA tournament.
Daniel Baxter: Baxter was a part of the 2017 Open Cup squad and returns to play another big role. Baxter spent his youth career playing for the Baltimore Bays and Baltimore Soccer Club as well as playing his high school ball for Calvert Hall College, before going on to play D3 collegiate soccer at York College in Pennsylvania. Baxter played a big role for the Spartans in 2012 and 2013 playing in 47 games, starting 43 of those, while contributing 3 goals and 7 assists as a Forward/Midfielder.
Robert Benzing: Brad Benzing was a GK on the Christos roster for the 2017 cup run and is one of several Baltimore Bays Chelsea alum on the roster. Benzing attended Mount Saint Joseph HS while playing for the Bays, while at MSJ he won a senior year MIAA title over #1 national ranked McDonogh and also won a U19 USYS National title with the Baltimore Bays Chelsea. After High School he played 4 years at Millersville University where he Redshirted his 2010 Freshman season before starting 56 games over the next 3 years, keeping a 33-16-5 record with 17 shutouts and a .773 save percentage. Collected NSCAA All-Atlantic Third Team, All-PSAC First Team, NSCAA All-Atlantic First Team honors and also is on several record lists including most career wins and career saves.
Alexander Bullington: Yet another alumni of the Baltimore Bays Chelsea academy, Bullington played 3 years of varsity soccer with Calvert Hall College HS earning All-State and All-MIAA honors in both his junior and senior seasons. Alex won a 2008 National Championship with the Baltimore Bays before playing collegiately for the Loyola Greyhounds where he played 4 years in the midfield. Bullington now runs Arbit, Inc as a co-founder, a social polling app that has over a hundred thousand users including NBA players and famous actors like Mark Wahlberg.
Peter Caringi III: One of the stars of Christos FC’s infamous cup run in 2017, Caringi scored 3 goals in the teams 3-0 win over Fredericksburg FC in the first round of last years cup run. Caringi enjoyed a very successful youth and collegiate career in Baltimore playing for the Calvert Hall College HS, Baltimore Bays Chelsea and then with UMBC to play for his dad, Pete Caringi, Jr. In high school Pete received Baltimore Sun First Team All-Metro honors while captaining and leading Calvert Hall in scoring for 2 years. Collegiately he left a long lasting mark with the Retrievers, going on to play 79 games in 4 years, starting 71 of them while scoring 37 goals and adding 17 more assists for 91 points all time. Caringi’s list of accolades at UMBC were definitely not worth typing out so I attached a picture of all of them below this! After graduating as one of the teams all time top players he went on to get drafted in the third round of the 2014 MLS Super Draft by the Montreal Impact, eventually signing for Oklahoma City Energy FC in the USL. Caringi is now an assistant coach for the UMBC MSOC team and will look to play an even larger role for Christos this year as their main forward!
Larry Cornish: Cornish is a 2010 graduate of Parkside HS before attending D3 DMV powerhouse, Salisbury University. At Salisbury, Larry Cornish starred for 4 years appearing in 69 games while starting 51 of them. In his 4 years as apart of the seagulls backline, Cornish collected 5 goals and 3 assists while collecting 2x First Team All-CAC, 1x Second Team All-CAC, ECAC South Men’s Soccer All-Star & NSCAA Division III All-South Atlantic Region Second Team honors, and will look to help strengthen the Christos backline!
Kaoru Forbess: A former #3 recruit in the nation, Forbess was a member of the U15,16,17 & 18 US Youth National Teams/Pools and was a 2x NSCAA High School All-American with Naaman Forest HS in Texas and Benton HS in Arkansas. Forbess also played club soccer for Little Rock Futbol Club and Solar Soccer club. After a very successful high school career, Kaoru went on to spend 4 years with the University of Maryland from 2008-2011 where he played in 76 games, starting 39 while scoring 5 goals and adding 10 assists in a career which brought home 2 ACC Championships and a 2008 NCAA national championship. After college Forbess has spent time playing professionally for the Baltimore Blast in the MASL & was a part of Christos FC’s roster for their 2017 US Open Cup run.
Joseph Glos: A four year varsity player at Perry Hall HS, Glos earned 2x First Team All-State and 2x First Team All County honors with the Gators while also reaching the 50 goal mark for them in his 4 years, 2x State Finalist in 2007 and 2008. Went on to play 52 games for the UMBC Retrievers from 2011-2014, grabbing a goal and assist each.
Brian Graham: One of the few players to play collegiately outside of the DMV, Graham was a four year starter for UNC-Greensboro in North Carolina. Graham spent his high school years playing at Bowie HS, winning 3 consecutive region titles while picking up PG County POTY in 2008 and 2 All-State selections in his 4 years there and also playing club ball with Freestate Elite (Now Maryland United FC) & the Baltimore Bays. In his 4 years at UNCG, Brian scored 13 goals and added 10 assists while pickup up Second Team & Freshman team honors for the Southern Conference.
Levi Houapeu: A former Potomac SC & Watkins Mill HS standout, Houapeu enjoyed one of the most successful collegiate careers of the group, starting 73 of his 76 games in his 4 years of college while scoring 34 goals & dishing out 19 more assists for the UMBC Retrievers. Houapeu received American East Midfielder and Forward of the year awards in 2009 and 2010, scoring 15 goals in each of those 2 seasons. Levi also won the 2009 D1 Men’s Soccer National Scoring Title with a 2.15 PPG average and was UMBC’s Male Athlete of the Year. After 4 very successful years with UMBC, Houapeu was selected 41st overall in the MLS SuperDraft by the Philadelphia Union but was released at the end of the year after suffering a serious injury in September 2011. Levi spent the 2013 season with local MASL side, Baltimore Blast before playing 3 professional seasons with the Rochester Rhinos of the USL from 2014-2016. Levi was the real star of the DC United game as he time and time again gave the MLS sides defense reason to worry and will look to play a big attacking role for the team in their 2018 US Open Cup run!
Elton Joe: Elton is a alumni of Digital Harbor HS in Baltimore, MD where he was a 2x Team MVP as a junior and senior. After high school he played 2 years for CCBC Essex where he picked up NJCAA D1 Third Team All-America, 2x NJCAA All-Region First Team & NJCAA Region All-Tournament team honors before transferring to Wilmington University for the 2013-2014 season. After transferring into Wilmington, Joe went on to star for the team in 2013 as he scored 15 goals and added 7 assists in 18 games for the team. Joe played a solid game in last years Open Cup match against DC United, putting in some dangerous crosses and standing strong defensively.
Mamadou Kansaye: An infamous part of the Christos FC story, Kansaye scored the famous free kick in the Open Cup 4th round to put the Baltimore team 1-0 up on MLS franchise, DC United. Kansaye played club ball for Baltimore Bays Chelsea and won 2 national titles in 2007 and 2008, scoring in both National Finals, including the game winner in the 2008 final. After 4 years with National HS powerhouse, McDonogh in which he picked up NSCAA All-American, All-State, All-Metro, All-MIAA and All-South honors as well as 4 state championships, 3 regional championships and 2 MIAA championships, Kansaye committed to play for the NC State Wolfpack. Kansaye enjoyed a successful rookie season, playing in 15 games and starting 6 for the Wolfpack before transferring back home to play for UMBC from 2012-2014 (Sat out 2011 season). Kansaye would go on to start in 60 of his 64 games for the Retrievers scoring 9 goals and adding 19 assists, adding on to his tally at NC State for 11 goals and 22 assists in his collegiate career. After picking up America East First Team All-Conference, America East Midfielder of the Year and NSCAA First Team All-East region honors as a 2x team captain on the UMBC side that made a run all the way to College Cup in 2014, Kansaye would go on to sign with the Charlotte Independence in the USL for the 2015 season. Kansaye recently became a coach in the Maryland United Football Club for the 2018-2019 season.
James Merriam: Merriam joins the Christos FC team for the 2017/18 season after enjoying a very successful collegiate career with West Virginia University and youth career in the DMV. Merriam spent a majority of his youth career with OBGC before playing academy ball with the Potomac academy and starring for Magruder HS. During his first 2 years in Morgantown, Merriam featured 32 times, starting 18 of those games while contributing 4 goals and 7 assists but a breakout 2014 season and another strong senior campaign returned 16 goals and 7 assists as Jamie established himself as one of the top collegiate players in the country! Merriam played in the USL-PDL league last summer for Tormenta FC with locals Keegan Meyer (DeMatha Catholic/Baltimore Celtic SC) and Kieran Roberts (Radford MSOC), contributing 9 goals and 2 assists in 12 games and showing a lot of pro level talent before deciding to join Christos for the 2017/18 season. Merriam will play a big role for Christos in 2018 if the team will make a deep Open Cup run!
Christopher Panian: A four year starter for John Carroll HS and an All-County selection as a senior, Panian would go on to play collegiately for Jacksonville University, Harford CC & Stevenson University during his 4 year career. In his freshman season with Jacksonville University, Chris would see action off of the bench 3x before transferring to Harford for his sophomore season where he earned All-MD JUCO and All-Region First Team honors while leading the team with 10 goals and 14 assists. Panian would then play his final 2 years for Stevenson University where he accumulated 35 starts in 39 games while scoring 20 goals and adding 5 assists as well. Panian received 2013 ECAC South All-Star First Team & First Team All-Conference honors and in 2012 was an All-Commonwealth First Team and Team MVP selection. Panian is a returning member from the 2017 Christos FC Open Cup roster!
Joshua Patterson: A 2009 graduate from Bowie HS, Patterson became the 2nd ever Duquesne University alum to ever be chosen by an MLS team, being picked up in the 2013 Supplemental Draft by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Patterson spent the 2009-2012 seasons in Pittsburgh starting in all 4 of his collegiate seasons with 62 starts in 73 games. Patterson became a strong forward for the Dukes, returning 29 goals and 8 assists across his 4 years in the program while winning several Atlantic 10 All-Conference selections. Patterson is an exciting new addition to the Christos roster and will bring a different attacking threat to the side than already brought in 2017.
Aaron Rilling: A former member of the DC United Academy and Loyola MD, Rilling is a returner to Christos FC for the 2018 Open Cup run. Rilling spent his HS career playing for The Field School in Washington DC while also apart of a very successful DC United Academy side in 2010 with future professionals: Ethan White, Bill Hamid, Peabo Doue and Paul Torres. Rilling would go on to play collegiately at Loyola MD from 2011-2014.
Tyler Rudy: A huge addition to the 2017/18 Christos FC roster is former Georgetown University standout Tyler J Rudy, a DMV product. Earned four varsity letters at Sherwood HS being selected All-Met teams as a junior and senior as well as picking up First Team All-State, All-Region and Scholar All-American honors. Rudy spent his youth career with the DC United Academy and was a 3 year member of the Maryland ODP & Region 1 programs before attending Georgetown University from 2011-2014. At Georgetown, Rudy would start in 71 out of 88 games in his 4 years becoming an instrumental figure in Hoya’s lineup while contributing 7 goals (5 GWG’s) and 12 assists. After earning Second Team All-BIG EAST honors as a senior, Tyler signed with the New England Revolution in February of 2015 before being loaned out to their USL affiliate, the Rochester Rhinos, for the remainder of 2015 and made 14 appearances for them as they won the 2015 USL Championship. In 2016 he would sign for Puerto Rico FC in the NASL and would go onto play 23 games, starting in nearly every match of the teams inaugural 2016 season at CDM but saw his 2017 season cut short after suffering an injury in April. Tyler decided to retire effective immediately in June of 2017 and joined Christos FC ahead of the 2017/18 season!
Phillip Saunders: Where to start with Phil Saunders… Without him the successful 2017 Open Cup run wouldn’t have even been possible as Saunders pulled out 4 very impressive performances for the Baltimore beer league side. Saunders actually won Player of the Round after making seven saves in Christos’s 1-0 road upset over DC United’s USL team, the Richmond Kickers and finished in 3rd in the voting for best players in the tournament who weren’t on an MLS team. In high school Saunders was a GK on the Baltimore Bays while also playing for Perry Hall HS as a fullback and GK. Reached state championship in both 2007 and 2008 while earning Baltimore Sun Second Team All-Metro, All-Division, All-County and Second Team All-State honors, actually earning the Second Team All-Metro selection as a field player. Saunders would go on to play 4 years for UMBC from 2009-2012. Saunders began his collegiate career with 27 straight starts, posting 8 shutouts before not playing at all in the 2nd half of 2010 and 2011, only to earn his starting spot back for 2012 playing every single minute as the Retrievers won their conference. Didn’t allow a single goal through his final 551 minutes as he kept shutouts through the whole American East Conference tournament and 2 NCAA Tournament games. Continued his dominant senior season with 2 PK stops in the America East Championship game to win and also saved 2 PK’s in their NCAA first round win over ODU before the Retrievers fell to UNH in the 2nd round of the tournament, despite Saunders making another stop in the PK shootout. Posted 10 shutouts in his senior season, 1 short of Brian Rowland’s UMBC record for a season, lead the conference in GAA and save percentage at 81.9% and finished his career with a 28-13-7 final record. Saunders would go on to play 2 years in the top flight of Iceland before returning to the DMV where he currently is the Head Coach of CCBC Catonsville Men’s Soccer and is building up a quality program there!
Michael Scott: Came to the United States to play collegiately for UMBC in 2012. Played for Dunfermline Athletic, Heart of Midlothian and East Fife before signing for Livingston FC where he was a member of their U19 side that went 19-1-4 in their league and was also a member of the Scotland U18 School Boys International side before making his way across the pong to play for UMBC. Enjoyed 4 strong seasons with the Retrievers starting in 43 games out of 80 while contributing 8 goals and 9 assists. Played a key role in the 2014 UMBC team that made a run all the way to College Cup as he started in 18 out of 24 contests with 2 goals and 3 assists on the year.
Joshua Taylor: A veteran center back for Christos who featured in last years Open Cup run, Taylor was a four year letterwinner and 2x captain for Archbishop Curley in HS earning All-State, All-Metro, All-City, All-County and All-MIAA honors. Taylor also was a member of the Baltimore Bays teams before starting all but one game in his 4 years with the Loyola University Greyhounds, serving as a 2x team captain and anchoring a defense in 2007 that posted 17 shutouts in 23 games.
Christopher Wilson: A two time All-Harford County selection that lead John Carroll HS in both goals and assists as a senior, Wilson played 4 years of collegiate soccer for John Hopkins University in Baltimore. During his 4 years at Hopkins he would go on to start 54 out of 72 games for the Blue Jays contributing 4 goals and 11 assists as an outside mid and right back.