Although neither Reyna nor Scally had the experience of Sands in MLS, both were able to capitalize on NYCFC and City Football Group’s relationships worldwide and progress their careers in Germany where clubs have shown a willingness to provide valuable minutes to youth players over the years.
Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams, Chris Richards and Weston McKennie are just a few of the other success stories that have been a direct result of the Bundesliga’s youth initiatives, and although Sands would love the opportunity to play there or somewhere else in Europe in the near future he remains focused on the job at hand in MLS.
“It’s something I’ve been very open about in the past and I’ve talked with the club and coaches about that,” Sands said. “For me I really want to help this club win a trophy, and I think this year is as good as any to do that.
“But I’ve also discussed with them what I need to do to continue to develop and show that I’m ready for that next level. It’s nice to have everyone at the club on board and on the same page about that.”
Sands and several other young NYCFC players are vying for that big opportunity overseas after watching their teammates and others across MLS complete those moves.
That’s why the 20-year-old believes his club’s shift to a younger set of talent could be beneficial for not just him but so many others in the organization like Justin Haak and Andres Jasson.
“The trend toward younger players is probably a good one,” Sands said. “David, Frank and Andrea were all really important players for this club that helped establish the culture of our team early on and definitely helped bring fans to games, which has been so incredible for a new club.
“I think with the younger players we have now there’s a lot of ambition. You know, guys who want to get to the next level, so there’s lots of incentive to play hard and show well for the team.”
Despite the shift in culture at NYCFC, Sands is forever thankful for the chances he had playing alongside Villa and Co., and believes the experience he received sharing the field with various World Cup legends has undoubtedly affected his game for the better.
“It was a tough environment to go into and not because of anything they did, just their backgrounds in the game,” Sands said. “You have these World Cup legends next to you, but I think if you just realize that you’re training with the first team for a reason then it makes it all a little easier.
“I learned really quick though that they were all such good guys though, and they were just trying to give back to the younger players on our team and be as helpful as possible. I got very comfortable asking them questions on the field, but also just their experiences as well.”
NYCFC has a very unique relationship with outfits around the globe, most notably the fact the club’s CFG ownership also controls Manchester City.