2019: The Rye-native played in 19 matches in a breakthrough season for the US U-23 international. Despite a broken arm and a broken collarbone in an injury-hit 2019, Sands played a total of 1,488 minutes, featuring for the most part in a three-back with Maxime Chanot and Alexander Callens. This form saw him nominated for NYCFC's Breakthrough Player of the Season title at the 2019 NYCFC Awards where James was narrowly beaten out in the fan vote by Taty Castellanos.
2018: NYCFC’s first Homegrown player broke into the first team in September under Doménec Torrent after a short stint on loan to Louisville City FC where he worked under John Hackworth. On the Development Academy side, Sands helped lead NYCFC to a National Championship, before coming back to New York and earning three starts through the campaign.
2017: Signed during the 2017 season as NYCFC’s first-ever Homegrown player, Sands spent most of the year with the United States U-17 National Team, anchoring their defense to the quarterfinals of the World Cup on the back of some impressive performances. He made his MLS debut on September 16th, coming on in relief of Andrea Pirlo against Colorado.
2016/2017: James became a US-BNT regular, helping his nation to a runners-up spot in the CONCACAF U17 Championships in May where his team only lost out to Mexico in the final on a penalty shootout. He scored his penalty in the final and earned a spot in the Team of the Tournament as the US secured qualification for the U17 World Cup in India.
2015: James was selected by NYCFC at the inception of the U16 Academy side.
2010: James represented affiliate team New York Soccer Club from the age of 10.