Rob Moore's instructions fell on deaf ears. His Ben Franklin boys' soccer team was ahead by five goals, and it would win by seven, but the coach needed one of his defenders to stay disciplined.

The player didn't, and Moore was exasperated. He turned and asked his assistant, Moussa Fane, why no one listens.

One reason is that, like the Nigerian defender, some of his players have trouble understanding him. And most have never actually played organized soccer before.

Moore coaches a team of 17 immigrants.

The school, at Broad and Spring Garden Streets, hosts the Newcomer Learning Academy, which teaches basic skills to school district students that are new to America.

The players come from countries such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Togo, Bangladesh, and Ivory Coast.

In addition to helping these students adjust to a new country, the program cultivates soccer talent.

The team has overcome its language barrier to start 7-0 in the Public League and has outscored its opponents, 44-6, in Ben Franklin's first season since 1992. Nyuma Koleh, who speaks little English and started with the program at the beginning of the school year, became eligible to play for the team's last three games and scored 16 goals.

"We're from different countries, but we're on the same channel," said Ibrihim Toure, who is from Ivory Coast.

Before a game, Moore swung his arms and contorted his body to communicate basic instructions to a player.

At any time, Moore estimates his players could be speaking 10 languages on the field.

"I'm hoping that they see that the soccer ball is their language," said Moore, who is Ben Franklin's dean and teaches health and physical education.

When Moore asked why no one listens to him, Mamadou Sall had another reason.

Sall, from Mauritania, was already out of the game with the big lead. He sat on the ground with his legs stretched out and explained to his coach how the players grew up playing a less-structured style.

Moore compared the importance of playing an organized game through the difference of pickup basketball to a real game. But that comparison furthered the cultural gap between him and his players.

He played soccer throughout his life, he even lived abroad, but he has had to establish his credibility with his players. They sometimes see him as more of a basketball coach, as he has coached Constitution High since 2010.

"It's very difficult to understand a basketball coach in soccer," Fane said.

Fane, who graduated from Franklin in June after coming to America from Ivory Coast last September, now serves as an intermediary between the players and the coach.

"Sometimes they don't listen to him," he said. "But I'll tell them what to do, and they'll do it."

The NLA moved from Southern to Ben Franklin in 2012 as the district sought a centralized location. With the program now in his building, Moore noticed the influx of skilled soccer players into his gym class.

A few students already played at Franklin Learning Center through a co-op program, but others asked why Franklin could not just start its own squad. Moore had helped start Constitution's basketball program in 2010 and used that experience to trigger Franklin's soccer team.

The team, Moore thought, would be a way to further the students' dreams of an American education and opportunity to go to college. He sees the potential for his players to play at junior colleges until their English is strong enough for four-year schools.

"If I can help them get a better education or help them enjoy their experience at Ben Franklin to enjoy their lives, I've done my job," he said.

ncarroll@phillynews.com

@nickjcarroll