October 16 is a climactic day for the New York Red Bulls. RBNY plays Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena, hoping to finish its regular-season home schedule with a win and position the team for high seeding in the upcoming MLS playoffs. NYRB II, the reserve team, will follow with the USL Eastern Conference final, against Louisville City: the game that will decide if the II team gets to play for USL Cup this season.
Toward the end of the NYRB II game, a few miles away from Harrison, a former New York Red Bull will be focused on a different goal: not finishing the year with a trophy, but positioning his team to have something to look forward to in 2017. FC Motown will play Lansdowne Bhoys in the second qualifying round of the 2017 US Open Cup on October 16, kicking off at 8:15 at the Torpey Athletic Complex in Bridgewater, NJ.
The RBNY connection is Motown coach Sacir Hot, a Red Bulls Homegrown signing in 2011 and former USA U-20 international. The 25-year-old has already seen FC Motown through the first round of USOC '17 qualifying. The Morristown-based club advanced to the second qualifying round by forfeit over NY Greek American SC. A soccer team understandably wants to play soccer, but Hot advised Once A Metro his squad were pleased to move on, if disappointed by the circumstance:
We were happy to get through to the second round. However, it was somewhat anti-climactic as we heavily prepared for a game that wasn't played. No doubt that excitement to play and preparation to succeed has only heightened heading into this next round.
The Open Cup anti-climax has been costly for Motown's opponents in the Garden State Soccer League. Four days after being stood up in the Cup, FC Motown started its latest league campaign with a 6-0 win over Sport Club Portugues. The team hasn't really looked back since, winning its first five GSSL games by an aggregate score of 22-5.
FC Motown is flying, hurtling into its next USOC game in imperious form. But it is hurtling into a similarly confident opponent. Lansdowne Bhoys are only three games into their Cosmopolitan Soccer League season, but they have won two and drawn the other - and scored five while conceding only once.
And the Bhoys have already tasted US Open Cup success. In the 216 edition, the New York club won through to the main draw of the competition and cleared two rounds of the tournament (beating Long Island Rough Riders and Pittsburgh Riverhounds) before falling to Rochester Rhinos. If the Bhoys had won that match, they would have played RBNY in the fourth round.
Coach Hot has scouted the Bhoys and has a sense of the pending challenge:
I've seen Lansdowne's game against Pancyprians in the first round [of USOC 2017 qualifying], so I have an idea of what we are up against. They are a disciplined team that battle for every ball until the final whistle. We are looking to match their intensity, win second balls, and break down their tight defense.
The last time we checked in with him, Hot revealed that FC Motown's tactics are modeled on the current RBNY approach. This time around, he's not giving up much more detail on hos team's preparations for battling the Bhoys:
Trainings and Garden State League games have been our preparation for this game. Basically, how we want to play against Lansdowne has been practiced whenever we got together as a group.
We are still undefeated in the league, with a 5-0 record; however, there is a lot more we can work on - which is no concern, since we got together about two months ago.
The coach himself is match-ready ("I've made two appearances so far because of certain circumstances") but says for USOC he will be "strictly sideline".
Admission is free at Bridgewater's Torpey Athletic Complex. Kick off is 8:15 pm on Sunday, October 16. Sacir Hot will be there. Will you?