New York City Football Club (NYCFC) announced on Thursday that they have agreed to a five-year contract extension with defensive midfielder James Sands.
“Signing a contract extension with NYCFC is a moment to celebrate and a reward for all the hard work I’ve put in throughout the last few years,” Sands said. “It means a lot to me to help create that pathway for young players to really make an impact and push past the first contract.
“To do it at a Club like NYCFC is so special. I’ve been given so much room to grow here and being at this Club for an extended period has helped me to improve in so many areas both on and off the pitch. Ending this season with some sort of trophy would be a huge success and it’s certainly a goal of mine.”
The 20-year-old was the club’s first-ever homegrown player and completed his second full season with the club in 2020, starting and appearing in 16 games with one assist before he suffered a right-foot fracture that ended his season prematurely.
Last season, he was voted No. 6 on Major League Soccer’s list of the 22 best players under 22 years old.
His work with NYCFC has helped him rise through the ranks of the United States Men’s National Team system. He starred with the Under-17 national team and was named to the Under-23 team in 2019, though he did not make the squad’s camp ahead of CONCACAF qualifying.
Still, he has received plenty of international interest with teams from Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands reportedly keeping tabs on him as recently as November.
“Long-term, playing at a top level in Europe has always been my dream and still is,” Sands said. “The club is in a good position to help me achieve my goals. I’m thankful they understand my ambitions and it’s why I’m so comfortable signing an extension here.”
On Sunday, Sands and NYCFC will depart for Florida before starting up training camp and a series of exhibition matches ahead of the 2021 MLS regular-season kick-off on April 17.