Sacir Hot on FCM Portland: “They’re going to fight. They’re going to be aggressive. They’ll attack with speed.” (Photo courtesy of FC Motown)
By Michael Lewis
His team is one of the hottest in the National Premier Soccer League postseason, but head coach Sacir Hot realizes FC Motown can’t rest on its laurels or rely on recent results if it wants to reach the championship game.
So, the Northeast Region champions better bring their A game to Ranger Stadium on the campus of Drew University in Madison, N.J. Saturday at 7:30 p.m. or see that dream turn into a nightmare, Hot warns.
“We can’t go in there taking these guys lightly because they will kick us off the field — literally,” he said.
Coming off a big 3-2 win over Cosmos B, FC Motown (12-1-1) will face a gritty FC Mulhouse Portland side. The Northwest Conference team started the season at 3-2-4, but has won its last six matches, including three road playoff games.
FCM Portland edged Spokane SC Shadow, 2-, in the conference final, then blanked El Farolito in the West Region semifinal, 2-0 and then staged an incredible late-match comeback to upended favored Orange County FC in the regional final, 6-4.
“I watched some video on them,” Hot said in an interview earlier this week. “They kind of remind me of a typical Cosmopolitan [Soccer] League team. They’re going to fight. They’re going to be aggressive. They’ll attack with speed. I think it will be more of a battle than a soccer match with them. That’s why we can’t go in there taking these guys lightly because they will kick us off the field — literally. So, we have to go in there ready to battle and be ready to fight like warriors and then let soccer take over.
“If we just match their intensity and match their fight and will, then our talent should be able to take care of the rest.”
Hot said FC Motown is a hungry side as it has set its sights on winning. If it does prevail, it would host the Miami FC 2-Duluth FC semifinal winner Saturday, Aug. 8.
“Oh, I mean the guys can’t wait for Saturday,” he said. “A lot of our guys are pretty much done with soccer and this is probably the only outlet they have to winning anything important. So, guys are super, super excited. They are willing to sacrifice their normal-life tendencies just for the next two weeks, so we can win this. It provides the highest level of hardware these guys can win at this point in their careers and lives — with the exception of Dilly.”
That would be midfielder Dilly Duka, who played for the Montreal Impact in the 2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League final. The Impact lost to Pachuca of Mexico and the former Red Bull received a runner-up medal.
Saturday’s encounter could come down to which side scores first.
“You can look at the World Cup, for example,” Hot said. “Any team that scores first and can play good defense can win a game. You’ve got a set piece and you score the first goal, you can defend for your life. And it’s hard to score. It doesn’t matter who you play. It’s hard to score when you have 11 guys packed into the box. Our guys completely understand and know that.
“That’s why it has been survive and advance. We’re willing to sacrifice the soccer part to get that first goal and then defend if we need to. Versus Cosmos B you saw that. We defended the first half, got through the first 45 and then the game opened up. We knew we couldn’t give up the first goal. That was so vital and key.”
Survive and advance has become the team’s motto during its postseason run.
“I’m not sure where I got it from,” Hot said. “We used it for the Open Cup run and we’re bringing it back now.”