New York City FC has made a few vital moves this offseason. Here are the top 3.
New York City FC had an up and down 2020 season. Scoring was problematic and inconsistent, and wins against top of the table teams were hard to come by. They finished 5th in the regular season, and once again were embarrassingly eliminated from the MLS Cup Playoffs in their first game.
Then, to make matters worse, the club traded captain and fan favorite Alexander Ring to Austin FC, and starting left-back Ronald Matarrita to FC Cincinnati. For most of the offseason, it seemed no reinforcements would arrive. Some fans claimed the front office and City Football Group just did not care about the team, and nothing would be done to improve the club.
However, despite the fact there were no big name signings, the Pigeons did make some solid decisions regarding the club. Here are the top three moves NYCFC made before the 2021 season.
3. Signing James Sands to a contract extension
On March 4, New York City FC announced the club signed Homegrown player James Sands to a five year contract extension. While the 20 year old has had some back luck with injuries the last couple of years, there is no doubt he is talented enough to deserve that extension.
Sands can play both as a central-defensive midfielder and as a center-back. He has been a vital part of the team since becoming a starter in 2019. Plus, every year he diligently works to improve his craft. With desires to one day play in Europe, Sands must continue to develop and excel. Hence, it would not be shocking for him to become a star this season, and find his way to Europe in the next few years.
Fortunately for Sands, NYCFC understands his desire to one day move abroad. The Homegrown player said the following regarding his dream:
"“Long-term, playing at a top level in Europe has always been my dream and still is. The Club is in a good position to help me achieve my goals. I’m thankful they understand my ambitions and it’s why I’m so comfortable signing an extension here.”"
For the club, signing a five year extension was an intelligent move. When European teams finally come calling, this guarantees the Pigeons will be able to sell him, and possibly for a higher price as well.
Furthermore, the contract extension confirms the club is committed to investing in their youth. Homegrown players are not just players who are signed for quantity, and sit on the bench. Sands proves to his fellow Homegrowns, and other NYCFC youth players, that working hard can lead to great things.
As always, the contract extension is just another step in the journey for Sands. The 20 year old must now continue to prove he is worth the extension, and continue to be an impactful player.