In first MLS start, New York City FC's James Sands earns another

NEW YORK — James Sands found out he was going to get his first MLS start at training a few days before New York City FC took on the New England Revolution Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium. 

Almost immediately after an impressive performance in the 1-0 loss, the 18-year-old midfielder learned when his next start was coming: against D.C. United Saturday (4:55 pm ET | Univision, Twitter - full TV & streaming info) at Yankee Stadium. 

In fact, he impressed NYCFC coach Dome Torrent so much, he not only touted him for another start, but also said he’s the club’s future No. 6 following the defeat. 

“Jimmy is our future here and today we found a No. 6 for the next year,” Torrent said. “I’m very happy for Jimmy. For me, he played really well. I can say he plays the next game because I’m very happy with him. I don’t know, I think he played with confidence, he played simple, he played like a player who play seven years in MLS. I’m very happy for him.”

Sands, NYCFC’s first Homegrown Player, said the expected nerves came with being selected in the starting XI for the first time. But heeding the advice from some more experienced teammates, Sands played simple for most of his 75 minutes on the field. He finished with an 85 percent passing accuracy, 54 touches, three tackles and three shots. 

“If you start forcing things that’s when it doesn’t go your way,” Sands said. “You just have to feel your way into the game and that’s what I was trying to do.”

Sands said Alexander Ring and Maxi Moralez helped make him more comfortable.

“Those are two amazing players so playing with them makes everything easier,” he said. “I think I was able to adjust to how they play and they were able to help me out throughout the game.”

Sands played as the holding midfield, which pushed Ring further up the field. It’s a position he played during a short loan stint with Louisville City FC, where he started all three games played. 

Due to yellow card accumulation, Ring is suspended for Saturday’s match against D.C., further solidifying Sands’ spot there this weekend. 

Lauded for his maturity, which he said helps to play his position, Sands gave himself mostly high marks for his performance Wednesday. 

“I thought I played well,” Sands said. “There was definitely some areas where I thought I was really good, but there’s definitely other areas where I can improve a lot. I was kind of cautious and maybe for future games I can play forward more, take some more chances, but that all comes with playing more.”