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"The biggest game of the season for us": FC Motown is up for US Open Cup

FC Motown's USOC 2017 started back in September, but it is also begins on May 10. OaM caught up with head coach Sacir Hot to find out how the team has prepared for its USOC first round debut, against NJ Copa FC.

Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images
FC Motown's ambitions do not stop with performing well in this year's US Open Cup. In an interview with Craig Tower, reporting for, Motown co-founder Scott Kindzierski revealed thoughts of advancing into the professional game with a move to USL, or at least affiliating with a team in USL or MLS.

Kindzierski and co-founder Dan Karosen have swiftly turned the club they set up in 2012 into a powerhouse in New York/New Jersey amateur soccer, finding success in the Garden State Soccer League and state and national amateur cup competitions before they had even implemented the traditional habits of a successful team. As recently as 2016, "we weren't having trainings, we just showed up on game day," Kindzierski told

But more professional standards have been implemented since, including the appointment of head coach - Sacir Hot - who has experience at the higher levels of the game. USA youth national team selections, trials with the Bundesliga Borussias - Monchengladbach and Dortmund - and a pro contract with the New York Red Bulls in 2011.

Kindzierski told that Motown is now making up for lost time with its current attitude to training: "we started training in January. I think we'll be training as much as USL teams."

All that work will be put to the test on May 10, when FC Motown plays NJ Copa FC in the first round of the 2017 US Open Cup. It is Motown's first appearance in the main draw of the competition - it has come a long way since the opening round of qualifying back in September.

NJ Copa FC was a regional finalist in last year's NPSL, falling just short of the national final four in the playoffs. The team's success is well known to Motown, since several of its current players were in the squad that made that run. Andres Berriel and Maxi Garcia a combined 10 goals in 21 NPSL appearances (Garcia had six in nine games) for NJ Copa last season, but they are on the Motown roster for USOC.

NPSL is considered a higher level of soccer than Motown's main stomping ground, GSSL. But it is not a level with which Motown's players are unfamiliar.

On the eve of his team's USOC first-round-proper debut, Once A Metro caught up with head coach Sacir Hot to get a sense of the mood in the Motown camp.

Once A Metro: How much has the Motown squad changed since your last USOC game?

Sacir Hot: In general we will be rolling out the same squad, but there has been some roster turnover. Our biggest concern has been the health of Andres Berriel and Max Garcia. They are two game changers for us and have been out all spring with injuries. Some new players to look out for: Franklin Castellanos, who starred for RB II in 2015, and Sammy Gehman, who played professionally and most recently was offered a contract in the I-League in India.

Castellanos is perhaps best remembered by RBNY fans for torturing Chelsea in July 2015. He was involved in all four of the Red Bulls' goals in a 4-2 win, most notably the first - which he scored after schooling John Terry and Asmir Begovic on the dangers of taking your eyes off a high-pressing team forward line.
OaM: How has the team been preparing for this game? Have you had many competitive matches since your winter break?

SH: We have trained very hard since winter break with an average of two sessions a week plus a game. We have maintained our undefeated regular season win streak (12-0 with 60-13 goal differential) in an increasingly competitive Garden State Soccer League. The other teams in the league are giving us their best shot game after game and the 8-0 scorelines of last fall our gone. Empire United put nine men behind the ball and stunned us in penalty kicks during the State Cup quarterfinals. It was a lesson to our guys that we don't have the talent to just show up and win without maximum effort. Teams are hungry to beat us given our recent success and we have to match their fight.

OaM: Is there anything different about the way the team approaches USOC games, or do you treat it as just another match?

SH: We believe that this is the one of the greatest tournaments in this country along with March Madness in college hoops. It is the biggest game of the season for us and probably the most important one in our club's brief history. The US has a closed soccer system as far as promotion and relegation, but this tournament is the embodiment of inclusiveness. We are one tough win away from playing a former US Open Cup winner in the Rochester Rhinos. Forget playing in a 15,000 seat stadium and on local TV, our guys believe that if the proper eyes get on them they can make their professional dreams happen.

OaM: What are you expecting from NJ Copa FC?

SH: NJ Copa FC is a 4th division NPSL team and is higher up the food chain in the US Soccer pyramid. They are a major club in Central Jersey and have a much bigger infrastructure than FC Motown does. We know them very well as many FC Motown players thrived playing for them last summer during their deep NPSL playoff run.  

OaM: And what should we expect from Motown?

We know that Motown has the skill level to win this game, but it will have to match the will of NJ Copa. The general perception out there is that FC Motown has some of the most technical players in the nation, but could be soft in a street fight. This is the game to change that perception.

Follow FC Motown on Twitter: @fc_motown. And on Facebook.

The match kicks off at 7:00 pm, Eastern, on Wednesday, May 10 at Saint John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ. Per host NJ Copa FC, admission is free.