Some say Sacir Hot's story is a cautionary tale.
The central defender was a standout for the New York Red Bulls Academy, playing at the U16 and U18 levels, before heading off to play college soccer with Boston College and spending time with the U.S. U-20 national team. After his freshmen year at BC, Hot appeared for the Red Bulls' U23 team impressing the first team coaching staff. Six months later, halfway though his sophomore year, Hot signed a professional contract with the Red Bulls, as the club's fourth-ever homegrown signing.
Within 13 months he was waived by the team without having made a first team appearance in MLS. For young players under Hans Backe, playing time was scarce and unnamed sources memorably said they were treated like "traffic cones" in practice.
After being waived by the Red Bulls, Hot began a journey to Europe and through the lower levels of soccer. Eventually, Hot went to Germany to play for Hessen Kassel, then in the fifth division, making one appearance for the club in 2013.
He almost caught on with the ill-fated Antigua Barracuda FC in USL PRO at the end of 2013, but the mismanagement of the team led to a botched effort to secure an International Transfer Certificate. Hot was travelling with the team as the season wound down, but left after it became clear the club's problems were not going to be resolved quickly. That season, Antigua did not play a single match at home, and went 0-26-0 with a goal differential of -80. it was no surprise when the franchise folded in the off-season.
Out of soccer for over a year, Hot caught on with American Soccer League squad Icon FC, based in Montville, New Jersey, to resurrect his career. Icon managed to win the ASL title in 2015 and went on tour in China for three matches. The team has been known to help players resurrect their careers, most notably midfielder Danny Szetela, who scored a contract with the New York Cosmos in NASL after playing with Icon in 2013.
Once a Metro caught up with Hot to reflect on his career so far, and what the defender has in store next.
"After taking a year or so off from soccer, I'm grateful for FC Icon taking me into the team," Hot explained to Once a Metro.
"Our team consisted of ex-pros, elite college soccer players and a NYRB Academy coach who was there when I was in the academy. We trained professionally every morning which brought me back into shape with help of my team. We were by far the best team in the league and deserved the trophy. It certainly helped me get exposure and back on my feet."
Before landing at Icon, Hot attempted a comeback with the Clarkstown Eagles. He said that he did not enjoy the team as players there were "hungover, tackling recklessly and playing kick ball soccer which does not suit me."
As for the Red Bulls? Hot just wants to continue his career and refuses to close to the door on wearing number 91 for the boys in Harrison again.
"Lets just say I signed at a wrong time; it is all over now and i want to move forward," Hot said.
"Yes I'm still in New Jersey currently training. I feel like I've matured mentally and professionally since the last time I was with Red Bull. I was 19 at the time and now I'm 24, so I've learned a lot from my mistakes which I feel like made me stronger.
"I wouldn't mind playing for [NYRB II] as it's a stepping stone to the first team. If I had a chance I would take a trial with the New York Red Bulls first team any day. Hopefully in a few years I will be wearing 91 again on the Red Bulls."
For Hot, his experiences with Antigua and Hessen Kassel helped him mature as a professional and have accounted for the drive he has today. Travelling to Germany at the age of 22 was a "growing experience," for Hot. Battling homesickness was the hardest part of the journey, but the raised level of professional standards he said helped focus him to battle for a spot in any team's starting XI.
Hot still hangs out with old teammates "Mehdi Ballouchy, Jonathan Borrajo and Dax McCarty, along with many other former academy mates online." He still calls himself a "big Red Bulls fan," who watches close to 90 percent of the team's games.
"I think this could be the year, they have a very good team," Hot added.
For now, the defender will keep training and pursuing some professional opportunities opening up, staying "as sharp as ever."
Hot's advice to young players? For that he cites Jurgen Klinsmann for the best advice he ever heard.
"[Everything] is driven by you. Coaches are just helpers."