Obscure Metro Files: Matt Kassel and Sacir Hot
January 18, 2019

As we eagerly await this year's crop of homegrown signings, let's think back to the days when graduating from academy to the first team was a new concept. Metro's first such graduate was Giorgi Chirgadze, who signed back in 2009. The Georgian never played a game for the senior club, but briefly resurfaced for once-great Dinamo Tbilisi. (That would be in European Georgia, not the American one.) He was followed by Juan Agudelo, who briefly showed flashes of brilliance and was even capped by the senior national team. However, "Clever" Hans Backe decided that Agudelo's immaturity was not worth the trouble, and the striker was shipped to the now-defunct Chivas USA. This brings us to signings #3 and #4.

To say that the signing of Matt Kassel was highly anticipated would not be an exaggeration. The much-sought midfielder's father previously worked for the MetroStars, so the fit seemed natural. Kassel was first rumored to come up to the first team back in 2008, when he was invited to training camp. However, MLS did not allow Metro to sign him, and he elected to attend the University of Maryland, helping the Terps to that year's College Cup.

Three years after his name first surfaced, Kassel had his pro deal. Coming off a nine goal, 11 assist college season, good things were expected. Six days after Kassel signed, academy graduate #4 came on board.

Sacir Hot was, like Kassel, a highly-sought US youth international. Like Kassel, he had ties to the MetroStars, even serving as a ball boy. After playing a year for Boston College, he decided to turn pro, and had trials with the German Borussia duo of Monchengladbach and Dortmund. When nothing materialized, he came back to New Jersey and signed with Metro.

So a foundation for Metro's future was being built... or so we thought. In 2011, Kassel played in just two MLS games, both off the bench. Backe tried to convert him to right back, which did not exactly work out. He did go the full 90 in two Open Cup games, the latter being a 4:0 drubbing in Chicago for which the "Clever" coach didn't bother to show up. Hot appeared in that game off the bench, the second time he did so in the Open Cup. He didn't appear in an MLS match.

That awful game in Chicago proved to the be last time either of the two played for Metro. On February 17, 2012, after Erik Soler and Backe decided they had no future with the team, the two were cut. "Unfortunately, with the talent on our squad, we cannot guarantee that Sacir and Matt will play in first team matches. They are both young players who need more games and we will help them find positive situations where they can succeed and develop. These were difficult decisions, but we think that these are beneficial moves for all parties involved," Soler said at the time.

Were they beneficial for all parties? For Metro, perhaps, but for Kassel and Hot? The former moved down to the USL and had a successful season with the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, before briefly returning to MLS with the Philadelphia Worms and finishing out his pro career in 2014, back in USL with Arizona United. Hot played one game for Hessen Kassel in Germany's fifth tier and was briefly on the roster of the wonderfully-named Antigua Barracuda (the team went 0-26 before folding). He has since reinvented himself as a coach of Motown FC.

So, signings #3 and #4 didn't work out. But Hot has a cousin, Kenan, a highly-sought prospect who just joined the Red Bulls Academy. So... here's hoping?

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