Forget about the sands of time. In the Five Boroughs, today marks the beginning of the Time of Sands.
This morning, NYCFC announced the signing of 16-year-old Academy product !!!JAMES SANDS!!! as its first-ever Homegrown Player. His pro contract is set to begin on July 1st.
Per Major League Soccer rules, homegrowns aren’t subject to allocation via the MLS SuperDraft, the typical venue for signing amateur talent.
“I’m really glad for James because he came with us on preseason and he did really well, showing us how good he is,” manager Patrick Vieira said in the club’s official news release. “He fully deserves this contract, he’s a young talent and now we have to help him to develop that talent.”
“It’s really good for us as a football club because it shows how hard and how well the coaches in the Academy have been working for the past few years.”
Sands, a New York Soccer Club and United States Under-17 player, leaped onto the radar this preseason, logging minutes alongside New York City’s senior players— and the versatile defender/midfielder did not disappoint, looking uncommonly composed and sure-footed against far more seasoned competition.
“It’s a huge accomplishment but I think it’s also a credit to the players and coaches I’ve worked with, from NYCFC’s Academy to the youth national team. Without them pushing me every day, I wouldn’t be in this position,” the player said in the club’s official release.
“Now I need to be like a sponge, to learn good habits from the people around me and to be confident. 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.”
This is only the beginning for !!!JAMES SANDS!!!, who has enough high school coursework still ahead of him that he makes Tyler Adams look like some old crone. Expectations will be high— perhaps even unfair. But if the early returns are any indication, New York City’s first-ever Homegrown Player has every chance to make a very special kind of impact as a local lad making good in the neighborhood.