NYCFC product James Sands joins premier group in Europa League final for Rangers

New York City FC homegrown product James Sands joined a select group Wednesday when featuring in the 2022 Europa League final.

Sands, who’s on loan at Scottish Premiership side Rangers FC through June 2023 with a purchase option, became the third American to feature in a European club final upon subbing into their match vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.

The others are Clint Dempsey and Christian Pulisic. Dempsey featured in Fulham’s 2010 Europa League final loss to Atlético Madrid, while Pulsic helped Chelsea win the 2021 UEFA Champions League title over fellow English Premier League side Manchester City.

The US men’s national team midfielder/defender entered in the 101st minute (extra time) for goalscorer Joe Aribo of what finished as a 1-1 draw before the German Bundesliga side won a penalty-kick shootout, 5-4. The 21-year-old did not take a PK.

Sands has featured in 14 matches for Rangers across all competitions since heading to Ibrox Stadium in January. They’ll face Hearts of Midlothian on Saturday in the Scottish Cup final, having finished second in the league behind rivals Celtic FC.

Before heading overseas, Sands won MLS Cup 2021 with NYCFC and was voted onto last year’s MLS All-Star team. He became the Cityzens’ first homegrown player in 2017 and featured in 69 matches across the regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.

Sands is part of the USMNT as well, hoping to earn a Qatar 2022 World Cup roster spot. He’s earned seven caps and was key to the 2021 Gold Cup-winning side.

Sands is one of several NYCFC academy products in Europe, joining Borussia Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Monchengladbach defender Joe Scally.