James Sands has been called up by the United States men’s national team for this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup.
The tournament kicks off Saturday June 24 and runs through the July 16 final, so Sands has the potential to miss up to five New York City FC matches before MLS breaks for the Leagues Cup. MLS does not stop play for most international breaks or tournaments, so NYCFC will be forced to persevere through a multi-match absence of its nominal captain and most consistent defensive presence.
Sands gets a second USMNT invite since returning to NYCFC following the early termination of his loan to Rangers FC. This April’s one-off (money grab) friendly with Mexico dubbed the “Continental Clasico” proved valuable for Sands, as he excelled in his first USMNT appearance since September 2021 and earned Man of the Match honors, at least according to Ben Wright of the official MLS website.
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Sands is one of eight previous Gold Cup winners added to the USMNT roster for this year’s tournament by the USMNT’s second interim head coach, BJ Callaghan. Sands previously played a critical role in central defense as the United States won the 2021 edition of the tournament, the country’s seventh Gold Cup overall.
Richy Ledezma and Keaton Parks both were on the preliminary 60-man Gold Cup roster, but neither got the call for this final 23-man squad. Ledezma is still stuck on the one memorable USMNT cap he had back in November 2020, notching two assists in 24 minutes off the bench in a 6-2 American rout of Panama in a friendly played over in Austria.
Parks has seemed to consistently make a case for a national team look during his number of solid, albeit injury-shortened seasons with NYCFC. He’s still left waiting for a call from his national team, though we are also collectively waiting to hear about his health after he was substituted in visible pain in the 80th minute of the 0-0 draw at Real Salt Lake.