New York City FC: Top 3 moves for the 2021 season

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New York City FC

May 22, 2021; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; New York City FC midfielder James Sands (16) and defender Maxime Chanot (4) and defender Sebastien Ibeagha (5) and defender Chris Gloster (2) and midfielder Maximiliano Moralez (10) and midfielder Valentin Castellanos (11) line up as Columbus Crew midfielder Darlington Nagbe (6) directs his teammates during the second half at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Here are the top three moves New York City FC has made for 2021

 

Before the 2021 season could even begin for New York City FC, there were questions about the strength of the roster, and whether the team could compete in the Eastern Conference.  Back in March, head coach Ronny Deila made the claim that he needed more quality players, and the current roster lacked depth.  Fortunately, players have stepped up, and the team has a respectable 3-2-2 record.  More importantly, some vital signings have been made, including during the season.

Previously, MLS Mulitplex had the top three moves before the season began for NYCFC.  Published on April 13, the Pigeons have been busy since then, which is why an update is needed.  So, without further ado, and in no particular order, here are the top three moves NYCFC made for the 2021 season.

James Sands of New York City FC

May 22, 2021; Harrison, New Jersey, USA; New York City FC midfielder James Sands (16) in action during the second half against the Columbus Crew at Red Bull Arena. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

3. James Sands and the five year contract extension

James Sands was on the previous list already, and his contract extension is still considered a top move made by New York City FC for 2021.  The five year extension not only signifies the club’s commitment to the academy and youth, but it allows Sands to grow before making his likely move to Europe in the next few years.  He is also a talented player, and his ability to play both as a defensive midfielder and center-back gives Deila options in the defense.

So far, Sands has proved he is worth the extension in 2021.  He had played and started in all seven games, both in the midfield and backline.  He has had 20 clearances and 14 interceptions during the season, and wins over half his duels and aerial duels.  He leads the team with passes in their own half, and his overall passing percentage success rate is extremely high at 89.9%.  Only Alfredo Morales and Tony Rocha have a higher percentage on the team, yet Morales has played 136 minutes, and Rocha 15, compared to Sands’ 612 minutes of game time.  He also leads the team in long and short passes.

In other words, Sands has been an imperative part of the team this year.  He has given his heart and soul for the club, and clearly has aspirations for success.  But his statistics alone do not show the player he is.  Just by watching games one can see how significant he is in the defensive third, constantly chasing the ball and reorganizing when necessary.  He is always willing to put his body on the line, and is not afraid to take risks.

At this rate, Sands’ growth over the last few years has fans questioning why he had yet to be called up to United States Men’s National Team, and why he was not been chosen for Olympic qualifying.  He clearly plays at a higher level compared to many of his younger peers.  Nonetheless, fans know how great Sands is, and he might be one of the more underrated players in MLS.  It is only a matter of time before the rest of the league catches up, and James Sands becomes a name everyone knows.

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