New York City FC midfielder James Sands is one of the emerging stars of MLS, and he could be one of the next Americans to move from the league to Europe.
Sands has emerged as a staple of the NYCFC midfield – if he can stay healthy. Injuries have certainly limited his impact on the field, seeing him appear in just 35 matches the past two seasons (with 34 starts). When healthy and fit, he’s a first-choice starter in the center of the midfield, a player who is tough on the tackle but has a good technique and can spread the ball all over the pitch.
“I feel like being at New York is the best to help me develop me as a player and showcase what I can do. I think also New York is in a unique spot with the connection with CFG. And it is a club with so many resources, I think they’re in such a good position to help me,” Sands said this week in a virtual media call.
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“A lot better position than a lot of other MLS clubs. I also really trust the people at this club and the front office; what I want for myself is what they want as well. You got to trust the people at the club and I do that.”
A week ago, Sands signed an extension with the team, becoming the first Homegrown player in club history to sign a new deal with the club.
At 20-years old, Sands is still young and developing, but being able to put together a season without missing matches due to injury would be huge for his development. He’s played for the United States at the U17 national team level and has the class to make an impact at the next level.
Getting – and staying – on the field has always been an issue.
The good news is that NYCFC view him as a first choice at the six or the eight. Given his motor but also his vision, his ability to lay deep and maintain possession is an asset for a club that likes to play with the ball.
If he can continue to develop, he could conceivably see himself in Europe in a season or two. This offseason, fellow NYCFC Homegrown Joe Scally, a right back, was transferred to German Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The same Borussia Mönchengladbach that, coincidentally, United States U17 national team midfielder Kenan Hot is currently training at.
“I’m so grateful that the club has given me the opportunity to show what I can do. The injuries I’ve had have slowed that a little bit. Maybe I haven’t reached all the goals I’ve wanted to because of those setback,” Sands said.
“I’m healthy for a 2021 season, I think I have a lot more room to grow. I think I can be even much better than last year.”