James Sands is back and ready for this weekend’s trip to Philadelphia after recovering from a second major injury this season.
James explained what it was like to overcome this most recent obstacle in an otherwise outstanding season after returning to full training at the Etihad City Football Academy:
“When I broke my clavicle it was tougher just because I already had the first one and it was definitely related to my arm,” Sands said. “If it was 100% I would have put my arm out to break my fall, but I mean you could always say what if, but I think maybe it played a little part.”
Although it was a certainly a tough time for the homegrown, James knows that the timing could be perfect as NYC looks to head into the MLS Cup Playoffs at full strength.
“It has been kind of a rough second half of the season for me, but I’m happy to be back now, especially going into the playoffs,” he told reporters.
“I’m just trying to help any way that I can, whether that’s on the field or on the bench just supporting the team.”
“I’m just happy to be playing again.”
The Rye-native has grown through the ranks at New York City, which makes his part in the team’s success that much more special for the fans and everyone involved at the club.
“It means a lot because I’ve been here for a while and I’ve seen some things change and some things stay the same, but I think it shows what a good plan the club has for the younger guys,” he said.
“They’ve brought me through step-by-step and I think it just shows well that I can contribute on the first team and that maybe there’ll be more kids in the future like that.”
Sands has been itching to return, and he could find his opportunity on Sunday.
“This week has been my first real sessions, but I was doing a lot before that just trying to keep my fitness up. I feel pretty good and just, you know, getting the touches again and getting used to the speed of everything,” he told NYCFC.com.
“I’ve been doing a lot of running, so I feel pretty good. Like today, I definitely felt better than yesterday. I think each day I’ll get better.”
“It is difficult because we are in a great form, so breaking back into the team will be tough. I’m just going to give it my best go.”
He hopes to play his first minutes back on Decision Day to continue his reintegration with the team going into the playoffs.
“I certainly hope so, it would be a good place for me to get some minutes because it’s a top team. Even if it’s just a few minutes off the bench, maybe will be helpful going into the playoffs,” he said.
Despite a rocky second half of Season 5, James will be holding nothing back as per usual.
“I think having gone through it with my arm, I’m just going to play the way I usually do,” Sands said.
“I can’t think about it because I think that’s why I got hurt the second time. I’m just going to go play my game, which is physical, and I’m going to deal with it.”
The defender was at home in New York when NYCFC clinched the top of the East, but he’s ready to work towards adding to an even bigger celebration.
"It was definitely kind of tough. You want to be with them, you want to be supporting them, but I got to see some videos online and all that. I liked seeing that,” he said.
It’s all still just beginning for this club and Sands.
“Hopefully now we can just get our legs under us and put up a good performance in Philly so we can have some momentum going into the playoffs.”
Playoffs here we come, but first - Philadelphia.