It has certainly been a long, winding road for Sacir Hot.
The former New York Red Bulls defender was one of the first players signed by the team through their Academy, a journey in professional soccer that would take him from MLS to the lower divisions of Germany and now, finally, as a head coach.
It is here, on the sidelines, where Hot may have found his calling.
Hot’s FC Motown, based out of Morristown, N.J. and playing at nearby Drew University, defeated the New York Red Bulls U-23 team, 2-1, on Wednesday night. The win came in the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and sets FC Motown up with another home clash next week against FC Penn of the USL.
It was a big moment for both the club and Hot. Motown is set for their inaugural season in the NPSL, a league stuck in the uncertainty of the soccer pyramid in this country. The NPSL is considered fourth division, but with no true third division at the moment, the league is currently an important development platform for soccer in this country. Moments like the win over the Red Bulls U-23 side certainly don’t hurt the perception about the team or the league.
And Hot, who was developed through the New York Red Bulls Academy and then signed to the first team seven years ago, also experienced a level of emotions as he coached against the organization that gave him his professional debut.
“I’m not as happy with the win as I would be against any other given opponent. I think the Red Bulls put out a great team of young players that really stepped up in a men’s game,” Hot said after the match. “I have mixed emotions right now because they deserve a lot of credit and could have potentially won the game last night. They are a well-coached side that is going to do very well in the PDL this year, I have no doubt about that.”
The connections at Motown to the Red Bulls’ organization go beyond Hot.
Dilly Duka, who played for the Red Bulls last year and also came up through the Academy, scored twice to seal the win for Motown. Duka, who had a successful stint in MLS that includes stops at the Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact, is an interesting piece in Motown’s attack.
Skilled on and off the ball, he brings a level of creativity and composure that is often not seen in the NPSL. The same can be said for other players on this roster including former Trinidad & Tobago international Julius James, another player with extensive MLS experience. Also in the mix is defender Hunter Freeman, who played several seasons for the Red Bulls as well as in Norway and with the New York Cosmos.
Ironically, the timeline of Freeman, Hot and Duka never overlapped when they were with the Red Bulls as players.
“Dilly is like a Designated Player for us. When he wants to change the game, he will. Last night, [he] maybe didn’t start the way he wanted as it was a bit slow in the middle, then [he] moved outside to isolate himself from the pack and we witnessed why he was an MLS player for so long. He decides games for us and his two goals last night lifted us out of a grave. He’s a real impact player for us and will be counted on in the NPSL season,” Hot said.
“I don’t think Dilly was extra-motivated last night given the opponent. Dilly has experience throughout MLS and also with the youth national teams. He’s played in big games throughout his career but I hope this one remains special for him.”