The Top American NYCFC players in club history

  • Happy Independence Day!
  • Here are some of the top Americans who have played for NYCFC
Keaton Parks, James Sands of NYCFC
Keaton Parks, James Sands of NYCFC / Jeff Le-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Independence Day, New York City FC fans!  Today is a day that many will likely be at a party or barbeque with family and/or friends.  There might be hamburgers and hot dogs involved, and perhaps cookies and ice cream.  There may be swimming, pickup games of any sport on the street, and fireworks to end the day.

Since the 4th of July is an American holiday, there have been many NYCFC American players throughout the years.  Since most of the team’s stars have been international players, only a few Americans have stood out since 2015.  Some are still here while others were with the Pigeons for a short time.

In honor of the summer holiday, let’s look at some of the top American NYCFC players.  Note these are those who are eligible for the USMNT and/or they are American-born.  This is in no particular order.

Top American NYCFC players

James Sands

James Sands is an easy player to begin with.  He has been with NYCFC since 2017 as the first Homegrown signing and also made the loan move to Rangers F.C., which unfortunately did not work out the way he wanted to.  Nonetheless, he increased his playing time in 2019 and became a regular starter in 2020. 

The defensive midfielder has been vital to the team’s success, especially in 2021.  His return in 2023 was significant to the club, for he has been a standout player during tough times.  Sands is beloved by many and he continues to annoy other teams, stealing the ball and eliminating chances.  He also has helped the backline in the defense, making him a critical part of the Starting XI.

Chris Wingert

While he was only with NYCFC for the inaugural season in 2015, Chris Wingert is a memorable American player.  The left-back started most of the matches in that first season, where he made a remarkable 90 clearances and 60 interceptions.  He is also a Long Island native, so it was great to have a tri-state local represent the Bronx team.  With some players long forgotten, it would not be shocking if many supporters remember Wingert.

Tommy McNamara

Tommy McNamara does not make this list because of his playing completely, but he did have some incredible moments with NYCFC.  More importantly, the player, who was with the club from 2015 through 2018, was a fan favorite.  He made 86 regular season appearances, with his best season coming in 2016.  He scored five goals and had nine assists in 30 appearances in the Major League Soccer regular season.

There is no question McNamara is still loved by the supporters six years later.  He has been with the New England Revolution for some time now, but they are always excited to see him.

Sean Johnson

The long-time NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson might be with Toronto FC, but his time with the Pigeons makes him the best goalkeeper in team history.  He was with the club from 2017 through 2022, where he had 54 clean sheets in the regular season.  He had 80 or more saves in five of his six seasons.

It was in 2021 when the goalkeeper truly made a difference.  Decades can pass, and nobody will forget what Johnson did in the 2021 MLS Cup playoffs.  Without him between the sticks, especially during the two penalty kick shootouts, NYCFC might not have a star above their crest.

Keaton Parks

When Domènec Torrent gave Keaton Parks that chance in the U.S. Open Cup in 2019, it changed everything for him.  He began to play more, and before one knew it, he became a starter with NYCFC.  The Texan player, except when he is injured, has not looked back.  The way he maneuvers on the pitch is sometimes brilliant.  He is not a major scorer, but his goals tend to be big-game ones. 

There is a reason Parks is known as Air Parks, for plenty of his goals are from headers.  In total, he has 14 goals in the regular season.  It is the way the midfielder plays in the middle of the pitch that makes him vital to the NYCFC lineup.  His partnership with Sands has been great over the last few years.

Honorable Mentions: Tayvon Gray and Joe Scally

Tayvon Gray is still working to become his best, but the right-back has improved significantly over the last few years.  His offensive work is already at its best this season while defensively he is stronger compared to Mitja Ilenič.

Joe Scally might not have played much for NYCFC, for he played only seven games.  Still, he deserves the honorable mention for how he has played in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach.  Many wonder what he would have done if given the chance to play in MLS, but Anton Tinnerholm was in front of him after all.