TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Loan
Sands, 21, has made 65 MLS appearances with NYCFC. He was the club's first-ever homegrown signing. The versatile defensive midfielder/center back helped guide NYCFC to winning MLS Cup in 2021.
“To be able to bring the club its first championship is something that I will remember forever," Sands said in a club statement. "It has been an amazing year and I couldn’t be prouder to have been a part of it – for a club that I have been with for so long. I hope in some way I’ve been able to set an example and inspire other young soccer players and other players in our Academy.
"I want to thank NYCFC for everything they’ve done for me. They have always provided me with an environment to perform. This club is a family and it has been my home since I signed, I’ve grown up here. I want to thank the best fans in the world for always supporting me and having my back throughout this incredible journey. New York City has a special place in my heart and I will always be a fan and will watch the games while in Scotland.”
Sands is the latest success story from the Cityzens' academy. NYCFC have already transferred fullback Joe Scally to Borussia Monchengladbach, while midfielder Gio Reyna spent his formative years in the academy before leaving to sign with Borussia Dortmund.
Rangers are in the Europa League knockout rounds, facing Reyna's Dortmund next month. They currently sit atop the Scottish Premiership, with a six-point lead over rivals Celtic after 20 matches.
“I want to thank James for everything he has done for the club," said sporting director David Lee. "We’ve seen him grow up in front of our eyes since making history by becoming our first homegrown signing in 2017. He has become an integral part of our team and his quality and maturity is special for a player of his age.
"James’ work ethic and versatility to play several positions has been key to the team’s ability to be flexible and provide depth when needed. James is a true professional on-and-off the field, playing consistently at a high level and setting an example for all our Academy players that want to follow in his footsteps."
Sands made his MLS debut in 2017, under then-head coach Patrick Vieira. He established himself as a crucial starter for both Dome Torrent and Ronny Deila over the past few years and made his senior US men's national team debut. He has made seven appearances with the USMNT, part of the Gold Cup-winning squad from last summer.