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Sacir Hot talks FC Motown and US Open Cup: "It's kinda surreal"

Checking in with Sacir Hot after FC Motown's stirring 3-2 victory in the second qualifying round of the 2017 US Open Cup.

Ed Zurga/Getty Images

FC Motown is into the third qualifying round of the 2017 US Open Cup after a nail-biting 3-2 win over Lansdowne Bhoys on October 16. The young Morristown club - formed in 2012 - was up against a more experienced opponent. Lansdowne had made it through a couple of rounds of the main draw of last year's USOC, and was the on-paper favorite to clinch the qualifier against Motown.

On the sidelines for Motown this season is Sacir Hot, familiar to New York Red Bulls fans as a 2011 Homegrown signing for the MLS side. Now 25, Hot has turned from playing to coaching, taking on the assignment of guiding FC Motown - a dominant force in the Garden State Soccer League - to the next stage of its development as a club. He made his professional debut for RBNY in USOC (in 2011); his coaching debut was the receipt of notification of NY Greek American SC's forfeit of its match against Motown in the first qualifying round of the 2017 Cup.

In an earlier interview with Once A Metro, Hot described his tactical plan for FC Motown as similar to that used currently by RBNY. Perhaps no surprise, given RBNY's tendencies this season, that Motown got out to a fast start against Lansdowne Bhoys, picking up a two-goal lead, before being pegged back and ultimately giving up an equalizer to an 88th-minute penalty.

At that moment, the Bhoys were favorites once more. But Motown had one last gasp, and found a 90th minute winner. Hot told OaM his players didn't really have much choice but to go all-out for the win in the dying moments of the game:

After they scored the penalty, our players knew we couldn't take the game into overtime. I feel like the guys just shifted into their last gear to try to win this game before full time. And I think the soccer justice gods were on our side. I think we deserved that last-second goal as a result of all the work we put into preparation. There were two scenarios that could have played out after the demoralizing PK, but our players chose the right one.

The coach had watched the game slipping away from his team as the match progressed:
The first half we really played well and stuck to our plans. We had many chances to kill the game off, 3-0. But that's soccer: don't take care of your chances, you pay the price. Second half: not so much. I feel like we fell into their game, which is detrimental to our team. However, it was our first tough opposition this year [Motown is off to a 5-0 start in GSSL], so I understand and will address.
Hot had scouted Lansdowne previously. Asked if he had been surprised by the Bhoys, he said no:
Lansdowne shows you their cards off the bat. They are a direct, long-ball kind of team. They did a very good job of playing the long ball into the final third, then fighting for the second ball.
Pre-match, the young coach had focused on Motown's tactical plan and the overall ambitions of the team; by half-time, with a 2-1 lead and 45 minutes to play, he told the players to be ready for a scrap:
[Before the game] I gave instructions as to how we were going to try to win, how important our win would be for the club and players. I told them at half-time that this game wouldn't be a tip-toe, flashy game, especially vs Lansdowne. I told them if we matched their fight and intensity, our talent would prevail.
Prevail it did. The 3-2 win takes Motown through to the next round, though the club will have to wait a while to find out who and when it will be playing. Indeed, expert Cup-watchers suggest the third round of qualifying itself needs to be confirmed first:
Whatever happens next, FC Motown has secured perhaps the biggest victory in its short history. A competitive win over a well-established club like Lansdowne Bhoys is another milestone for a team that has traveled some distance from its origins as a rec-league squad, as Hot notes:
FC Motown was founded by Scott Kindzierski and Dan Karosen after dominating its co-ed soccer league. They decided to take a few of the guys from the co-ed team and start FC Motown out of New Jersey's Garden State Soccer League.

It's kinda surreal when you think about this team going from playing in a co-ed league to knocking out Lansdowne and playing the U-20 Ecuador National Team [a recent scrimmage for FC Motown].
Hot isn't long into his coaching career. He followed a path to a professional playing career that speaks to high standards: some time at Boston College, trials with Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund, a pro contract with RBNY, time with the USA U-18 and U-20 Men's National Teams. Twenty-five is early for a player of that pedigree to turn attention to coaching, but he is treating the opportunity with the same ambition he brought to playing:

For me, I'm just happy to be able to teach what I've learned over the years as a player and student of the game. The more practice I have with this highly talented team, the more I will learn to take me a step closer to my goal to make it to the pro game as a coach.
Motown and Hot are well-matched: young, ambitious, and focused. Together, they are striding into the next qualifying round of the 2017 US Open Cup.

Keep up with FC Motown and Coach Hot on Facebook.