James Sands becomes first NYCFC academy product to sign pro contract

James Sands - New York City FC - June 21, 2017

New York City FC on Wednesday announced the signing of 16-year-old James Sands, who becomes the first academy player in NYCFC history to sign a professional contract with the club.

"This is a big dream come true for me from ever since I was little kid playing in my backyard to now," Sands, a US youth international, told "Especially when you look at how in just a few short years NYCFC has grown -- to be the first Homegrown Player is really special for me.

“Now I need to be like a sponge, to learn good habits from the people around me and to be confident," Sands continued. "I’m really looking forward to coming in, to contributing and I really can’t wait to be out there playing in front of our fans.”

Sands, who impressed at defensive midfield for the club during the 2017 preseason, plays at center back for the US youth national team and is expected to be part of the US Under-17 squad that will travel to India in October for the FIFA Under-17 World Cup.

“I’m really glad for James because he came with us on preseason and he did really well, showing us how good he is," head coach Patrick Vieira told "He fully deserves this contract, he’s a young talent and now we have to help him to develop that talent.

"It shows how hard and how well the coaches in the academy have been working for the past few years. They deserve a lot of credit because when you look at the talent we have, especially in such a short time period, it tells us a lot about how the system is working.”

Along with his twin brother, Will who featured for the NYCFC academy team at the Generation adidas Cup in April, Sands joined the NYCFC Under-16 academy in 2015 when the program was first launched.

According to the club's site, "Sands will complete summer school in July and will train with the first-team around his international obligations."