To many observers, James Sands has been the big surprise for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
But not everyone.
“I guess it’s been a surprise to a lot of people, but it’s not a surprise to me that I’m playing this way,” he said. “I’ve done it for a couple years with New York, and I’ve been pretty consistent at it.”
For the past three Major League Soccer seasons with New York City FC, the 21-year-old Sands usually has played the middle of a three-man backline while being able to move into the role of a defensive midfielder.
So, he has fit in well to the three-man center back system that USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter deployed in his first two international starts. His calmness, man marking and passing ability has been impressive.
“The things I’ve been doing in these past two games are things I’ve all done before,” Sands said. “I’m feeling pretty confident going forward.” . . .