New York City FC: James Sands is back and that is great news

James Sands of New York City FC
James Sands of New York City FC / Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, New York City FC fans received great news: James Sands is back.  The Homegrown midfielder was away on loan with Rangers F.C., and as many know, it was not working out.  He was struggling for playing time, and was often played out of position.

Hence, there was a call for his return home.  Thankfully, Sands felt his best interest would be to return to NYCFC, regain his form, and try Europe again down the road. 

So, not only did the Pigeons bring him home, but they also gave him a new contract until 2027.  This illuminates the belief in the MLS Cup winner, but also shows the club is willing to continue investing in his career.  Sands recognized this, and told the following:

"I am excited to return to New York. As someone who grew up in New York and played for local youth teams and the NYCFC academy, it was and continues to be a great honor to represent this Club. NYCFC has had a tremendous impact on my development, the Club's support of my initial step in Europe and continued understanding of my career goals has been very important to me."

James Sands

James Sands and his return to New York City FC is great news

New York City FC also expressed they continue to support Sands in every way possible, but also wanted him to return to work toward his European aspirations.  Sporting Director David Lee expressed the following:

"It was a priority for us to try and ensure James returned to New York this season. Despite opportunities to continue his career in Europe, we are pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement on a new contract and convince James that this is the right place for his continued career progression. We know James’ ambition remains to play at the highest levels in Europe and we will continue to support him with his career aspirations. James is not only a special player; he is also a natural leader and fantastic role model, and with his added experience in Europe, we see him as a key player who will immediately help our team contend for more trophies. Since day one, our fans have been supportive of James and I'm sure that the return of one of their own and a player of his caliber will be a moment of celebration."

David Lee

Lee was not wrong about the celebrations.  Fans expressed their happiness for Sands’ return on Twitter, and it was clear the news was great news.  Undoubtedly the midfield is an area of concern for NYCFC, and the addition of Sands solidifies quality in the defensive midfield.  He also adds depth for the center-back position, but unlike the Rangers, the Pigeons will only play him there when necessary. 

Moreover, everyone already knows the quality Sands brings to the midfield, so there will be no question to whether he will start.  He is someone who fits well into the possession style of play, and was previously vital for NYCFC’s defense, particularly during the MLS Cup run in 2021.  His tackling abilities and the way he breaks up plays will be vital for the Pigeons this year, especially during the time the club lacks a true center-forward or striker. If the team struggles to score, then perhaps they can keep themselves in games via the defense.

Putting his talent aside, fans love Sands, and will be happy to have him back.  He will help out the current roster, but will also represent the crest on his shirt with pride.  He is a New York local, and there was a reason he was signed as the first Homegrown player. 

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Hopefully Sands will have a superb season in 2023.  He is a fantastic addition to a questionable roster, and will help the defense tremendously.  New York City FC is lucky to have him back, and this is welcoming news after a tough start to the season.