On Monday, New York City FC received some good news, but also alarming news. James Sands is set to represent the United States Men's National Team at this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup. This is a great opportunity for the young midfielder, and will hopefully lead to more opportunities in the future.
Although, this is not the first Gold Cup though, for Sands was a major part of the USMNT's Gold Cup win in 2021. Since then, he has rarely been with the national team, but his last appearance in April likely solidified his place with the national team this summer. Plus, like in 2021, the Gold Cup roster is more Major League Soccer heavy, so it is not surprising he is seen as one of the better MLS talents.
NYCFC's James Sands will play in the Gold Cup later this month
The New York City FC captain's versatility is also a plus for the USMNT. However, he is much stronger as a defensive midfielder compared to a center-back, so hopefully the midfielder will remain in the midfield throughout the cup.
At the same time, it is alarming that Sands will be missing games with NYCFC. The first game for the USMNT will be on June 24, and then if the side makes it to the final, then the last match would be July 16. Plus, it is possible the roster will meet immediately after the Nations League is completed. Therefore, Sands could miss up to six MLS fixtures.
For NYCFC, not having the captain would be a major loss for an already struggling team, especially with the lack of depth. Yes, the team has some fixtures where they play well without the expected results, but that does not matter, for the Pigeons are still in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. And Sands is a boost to the team, especially when he is in the midfield. His interventions and way he maneuvers with the ball has been vital for the team throughout the season. One can only wonder whether the Bronx side would be in last place if the midfielder did not return.
In the end, it would be ignorant and cruel to deny Sands a chance to play with the USMNT at the Gold Cup. New York City FC understands the importance of this opportunity, and does not want to hold their young star back. He will be missed in MLS, but hopefully he and the US can bring home the trophy once again.