Julius James when he was with Columbus Crew SC. (Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
He might not have made the NPSL Northeast Region XI, but Julius James is an all-star and then some to FC Motown head coach Sacir Hot.
The former Trinidad & Tobago international has helped shore up the team’s defense this National Premier Soccer League season.
“Julius has been a missing piece of Motown in the past years,” Hot said Thursday. “In the last two or three years I have been coach of FC Motown, we were never known for having a solid defense. We were known for scoring a lot of goals. If you look at some of our results in the Garden State League and all of the tournaments that we played, it’s always been a 6-4 or something.”
Entering Saturday’s Northeast Region final against Cosmos B at Commisso Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FC Motown (11-1-1) has conceded only seven league goals.
“So, having Julius on our team brings us that leadership in the back. He kind of jells the team. He’s outspoken. He has a voice. He’s a branch of me as the coach. Whatever the game plan is, he makes sure the defense executes it and follows and stays on in that direction. I think that he has been phenomenal for me. I am super happy with him. It’s great having Julius in the back.”
James, who turned 34 has been playing in the United States, having been a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist for the University of Connecticut in 2007. He has played in five American soccer leagues and for 11 teams.
His resume includes the Westchester Flames (Premier Development League), Toronto FC, Houston Dynamo, D.C. United and Columbus Crew (all Major League Soccer), Minnesota Thunder, Carolina RailHawks, San Antonio Scorpions and Fort Lauderdale Strikers (all North American Soccer League) and Sacramento Republic (United Soccer League).
Hot called James a “great find.” The T&T native reached out to midfielder Dilly Duka, with whom he was a teammate on Columbus about joining the team.
“It’s like the [Bastian] Schweinsteiger effect,” Hot said of the standout German midfielder. “He goes to Chicago and now people from Europe are calling him, asking him how Chicago is. Now they want to come to MLS. Or the Beckham effect if you want to say. When Dilly comes a lot of people perk up their ears. They want to know what’s going on. Julius didn’t have a team. He asked him about our club and Dilly gave him the sales pitch and he came over, saw what we were about and loved it.
“He loves our culture, our environment. He loves North Jersey. He loves the area. I think he wants to end up staying over here.”