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(Photo courtesy of NYCFC)

(Photo courtesy of NYCFC)

This morning, NYCFC etched another milestone into its growing history. James Sands, a 16-year old United States Youth International, signed his first professional contract today while making history in the process. 

Today, James Sands became the first homegrown player ever in the history of the ‘Boys in Blue.’


The young defender/midfielder trained with NYCFC during this year’s preseason workouts and impressed head coach Patrick Vieira and Sporting Director Claudio Reyna.

According to Reyna, Sands is the perfect player to fill the first homegrown role in NYCFC history. 

“It’s an exciting day for James, for the football club and for the Academy to have our first Homegrown Player sign,” said Reyna in an interview with “It’s a special moment, and we couldn’t have asked for a better person to be the first.”

For Sands, this moment has been sixteen years in the making. The teenager is eager to make the most of this exciting opportunity. 

“I’m really excited – this is a big dream come true for me from ever since I was a little kid playing in my backyard to now,” said Sands. “Especially when you look at how in just a few short years NYCFC has grown – to be the first Homegrown Player is really special for me.”

Now that he is a part of the team, the next goal for Sands will be to get some playing time for ‘New York’s team.’ That goal could be in the works soon if Sands continues to make significant strides in his development.

“I think the next thing that we’re all really looking forward to is when he steps onto the field for the first time and we have our first Homegrown Player making his debut,” continued Reyna. “We’re confident, if James continues in the same way, that day will come soon.”

How soon? That is to be determined. 

Head coach Patrick Vieira is also onboard the excitement train for Sands, as this signing is a testament to the growing presence of the NYCFC academy. 

“I’m really glad for James because he came with us on preseason and he did really well, showing us how good he is,” praised the Frenchman. “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 has been nothing but superb for the Academy in the previous years. That solid work in the academy earned him his first spot in the first-team during the preseason as mentioned before. 

Sands earned a spot in the midfield in a preseason match on the road against Ecuadorian side Emelec. Sands played next to Italian legend Andrea Pirlo and showed signs of maturity that impressed his teammates and Vieira. 

Now, Sands may have a chance to rejoin the first team in an upcoming match. Only time will tell when we see Sands at Yankee Stadium. 

But, it is a moment that is coming soon. 

To see Sands’ first professional interview with NYCFC, click here.


Joshua Sampson

Joshua Sampson

Joshua is the NYC FC Beat Writer for and contributes in others areas as well.
Joshua Sampson
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