Louisville City FC midfielder James Sands made a strong first impression to his loan stint from New York City FC on Wednesday night against the Charlotte Independence. | Photo courtesy Scott Moulton / Charlotte Independence
MATTHEWS, N.C. – Having turned 18 years old just a month ago and having made only a 14-minute cameo for New York City FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this season, you could have forgiven James Sands for showing some signs of rust in his first appearance for Louisville City FC on Wednesday night as he earned the start on the road against the Charlotte Independence.
But the former U.S. U17 international standout showed little sign that the time away from live action had blunted his skills in a strong midfield display that saw him show both efficiency and tenacity in helping the visitors to a 3-0 victory at the Sportsplex at Matthews.
Sands was effective throughout the midfield in winning possession. A former player for new Louisville Head Coach John Hackworth with the U.S. U17s, Sands recorded seven tackles and three interceptions and won 12 of 17 duels.
His distribution was also consistent as he finished with the third-most passes attempted on the field with 88 behind only Louisville center backs Paco Craig (89) and Sean Totsch (91) as the visitors held 55 percent of possession overall. Sands completed 79 of his 88 passes, too, mostly looking for short balls including those to Craig and Totsch, but also sending some good longer passes out to the flanks for Oscar Jimenez and Niall McCabe down the left side.
The highlight moment of Sands’ night arrived in the 65th minute as his vision in transition resulted in Louisville’s third goal of the night. Picking up possession in space in his own half, Sands delivered a perfectly-weighted pass that broke the defensive line for Luke Spencer to run on and finish, icing the game for the visitors.
Certainly, the performance left a strong first impression on a couple of Sands’ new teammates and fans from both Louisville and New York as they took to social media.
Got to watch full game on ESPN+ today, @loucityfc bossed the game against @CLTIndependence. @jamessands_16 had a great game as the holding midfielder in a 4-3-3. He kept great shape and screened for the centerbacks well. His assist was killer. Great to see him get minutes. #NYCFC https://t.co/bVx8zTwjCp— NYCFC Tactics (@NYCFCTactics) August 23, 2018