#NPSL20 Feature: Jackson Lions FC Standout Kenny Hot Builds a Future in the NPSL

Kenny Hot’s soccer journey is an incredible one, and it is just getting started.  

The young midfielder has played for some of the biggest brands in American soccer, including New York FC II, Hartford Athletic, and New York Red Bulls II.

“Playing with these professional clubs at such a young age taught me so much that playing in academies would not have,” Hot said. “For instance, when I was with academies growing up I would start and play every minute which was great for my confidence, and ultimately allowed me to be a great player.  However, what playing at these professional clubs taught me was that my game needs a lot more work than I thought.  Which in the moment was hard for me to deal with, but in the end taught me so much.  It made me realize that I would have to put in more work and more focus every day if I wanted to get on the field.  I think that is something that young players can be surprised with when they first make it to a first team, and for me to learn those lessons at such a young age was incredible.” 

Even more impressive is the fact that Hot has already had trials with overseas clubs like Arsenal, AS Roma, and Borussia Monchengladbach.  

“Going on trial with such prestigious clubs was something that changed my game for the better,” Hot noted. “It showed me that my goals were not as far as they seemed and showed me what I needed to do to get to that level.  Ultimately seeing teams up close that I had grown up watching, I realized that those academies were not as far ahead of our academies as I would’ve thought.  To me, this is why you see American kids succeeding in Europe all over the place and why you see our academies beating top level European academies at all of these tournaments, it’s no accident. Also, it showed me that my game specifically is well suited in other countries as well, such as Italy and Germany.” 

Hot has even represented his country with the U.S. U-15 National Team, and was set for a camp with the U.S. U-17 National Team before the COVID-19 pandemic.    

He also happens to be one of the top players in all of college soccer, starting and playing in 19 games as a freshman with Duke University.  He received ACC All-Freshman Team, TopDrawerSoccer First Team Freshman Best XI, and College Soccer News All-Freshman Third Team honors in 2022.  He also ended up being ranked as No. 2 on TopDrawerSoccer’s Postseason Freshman Top-100.  

Duke is obviously a powerhouse for both athletics and academics.

“Being a part of Duke University goes way beyond the sports aspect of playing at the highest level in the best conference in the country, the ACC,” Hot added. “One of the best parts of it is knowing that the opportunities that I have coming out of here with a Duke degree are basically endless, both on and off of the field.  That is something I will never forget and cannot thank Coach (John) Kerr or Coach (Michael) Brady enough for.” 

Kerr was willing to share his thoughts on Hot’s contributions to the Blue Devil squad.  

“Kenny Hot is a very good player for Duke,” Kerr said. “He reads the game exceptionally well and orchestrates our midfield in possession.  He is very ambitious and is always looking for ways to get better.  We love having him in our program.”

Hot is also no stranger to the NPSL, having played for both FC Motown and Jackson Lions FC.  

“I played with FC Motown two summers ago and it was a great experience,” Hot continued. “The reason I decided to come back was the opportunity to play for the Jackson Lions, who, in my opinion, are one of the best teams in the league and play some of the best soccer in the league.  The NPSL as a whole, provides me with the chance to play against top level, college guys, as well as those who graduated from top level schools as well.  We have guys that play in the ACC, Big East, Big 10 and so do other teams that we play on a regular basis, making it a competitive game every single week.”

He has thoroughly enjoyed his time with Jackson Lions FC this season.  

“Obviously, this is my first season with the Jackson Lions,” Hot said.  “The atmosphere and team camaraderie has been amazing, and I think that shows in the results.”

Jackson Lions owner Mike Durazzo praised Hot’s skill set and playing style.  

“Ever since he was just fifteen, he was fearless playing with grown men,” Durazzo said. “What makes him so good in the midfield is that he’s able to switch from defense to attack.  He really is a true box-to-box type player.  He treats every game the same, like the true professionals do, whether it’s an NPSL game for the Lions or against a top ranked ACC team when playing for Duke, he goes into every single game with the same mentality.”

Hot is looking forward to making a big impact on the pitch both this summer and fall.    

“The main thing on my mind right now is making sure that the Jackson Lions are in a good spot and secure a place in the playoffs,” Hot concluded. “With regards to long-term goals, I’m thinking no further than this fall season with Duke, because we have the team to make it all the way this year no doubt. Coach Kerr and Coach Brady will have us ready to compete for a national championship without a problem.”

Kenny comes from a true soccer family.  His father, Haris, played soccer for Manfred Schellscheidt at Seton Hall from 1991-1995.  His cousin, Sacir, has become a staple in the East Coast soccer scene, having played for Boston College and the New York Red Bulls and coaching FC Motown. 

Kenny was quick to show that he benefited from his cousin’s expert tutelage.  As a 16-year-old, he was named Man of the Match in the Keystone Conference Finals, helping Motown advance in the playoffs.  He played alongside former MLS standouts Dilly Duka and Tony Tchani.      

“Something that is important to look at is that FC Motown are the reigning NPSL champs, and I think that shows how strong the Keystone Conference truly is.  Regarding my time with Motown, I learned so much playing with older veterans and playing under the wing of my cousin Sacir Hot.  Being that Sacir played at a very high level himself, there were many things that I learned from him.”

Durazzo also pointed out the influence of Kenny’s father.  

“His dad, Haris, is one of the smartest players I’ve ever seen,” Durazzo added. “And I think that this was a huge influence on Kenny.  He doesn’t make mistakes.  He has great vision.  You can tell his soccer IQ is really, really high.”

It’s clear that Kenny Hot is a name to remember.  

He represents the best of the rising stars of the NPSL, a player capable of playing at the highest level.  The next time you hear his name he might be winning a national championship, playing for a European giant, or even competing in a World Cup.  He’s that good, and he’s chosen the NPSL to grow his game and take him to the next level.  


Photo Credit: Tyler Andreas/Jackson Lions FC, Peter Bonilla, and Duke Athletics


Other Articles

League News
League News