James Sands believes New York City’s five-game road stretch presents the opportunity for the Boys and Blue to better-equip themselves in the hunt for silverware.
Nick Cushing’s side are searching for a first away win of 2023, having fallen to a narrow defeat at the hands of Toronto FC on Saturday, and travel to Charlotte FC this weekend in the first match of a three-trip week.
Sands, who has been an ever-present in the City midfield since returning to the Club in March, says his side can use the tricky run to aid improvement.
“I actually look forward to the away games,” he said. “You learn more about yourself than in the home ones.
“I think [on Saturday] part of the problem was technical execution. We had far too many individual mistakes, especially at the beginning of the game.
“When you have that on the road, it makes it very difficult to win. But next week is another opportunity.
“We have to have a really good week of training, and then go for the three points again.”
C.J. Sapong’s solitary strike 22 seconds after the break proved enough for the points at BMO Field.
Sands admitted the squad were disappointed to have conceded at a crucial time, with the Boys in Blue having finished the opening 45 brightly.
“I think it is one of the worst times in the match where you can concede,” he added. “We talk about the five minutes to start or end the game, and then the five minutes before or after half-time.
“Those are kind of the swing moments, and when you concede in one of those, it makes it very difficult for the rest of the game.
“I think we were maybe not ready, and they obviously took advantage of that. It is something we have to fix for sure if we are going to be a top team in this league.
“I would say that from the start, our press wasn’t right. They were able to play off Sapong, which was something we wanted to avoid.
“They play off of him, and get a switch, then they work it to [Federico] Bernardeschi. He is a very dangerous player one-v-one.
“I think to start, that is not something we wanted to happen. Then obviously they work it to the endline, cut it back...
“As I said before, it is really a terrible moment to concede, especially because it is a type of play that we have talked about a lot with them [Toronto FC]. It is definitely a frustrating one.”
One of the positives for the Boys in Blue was the display of Star of the Match Luis Barraza.
The shot-stopper produced five saves to continue his fine start to the season, having taken the number one jersey following Sean Johnson’s departure for Toronto in the off-season – and Sands has been impressed.
“I think Luis [Barraza] stepping in has done a great job,” the midfielder hailed.
“Sean [Johnson] was a great player for this Club for a number of years. He was a great captain, and someone I learned a lot from personally. We have obviously missed his leadership this year.
“Luis is a big part of the future of this Club, and I think he has started the season really well.”
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