James Sands is back.
New York City Football Club announced Wednesday that the midfielder has returned from his loan at Rangers FC and has signed a new contract through the 2027 season.
Sands will be available for Saturday’s match at the Chicago Fire, subject to receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
“We are delighted to welcome James back to New York,” NYCFC sporting director David Lee said in a statement.. “He has gained valuable experience playing in Europe over the past 13 months, including playing in both the Europa League and helping Rangers to qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2010-11. I’d like to thank Ross Wilson and Rangers FC for their cooperation in allowing James to return now and wish them the best of luck for the remainder of their season. His time with Rangers has enhanced his development and we are excited for him now to return to New York and play a critical role for our Club in 2023 and beyond.
“It was a priority for us to try and ensure James returned to New York this season. Despite opportunities to continue his career in Europe, we are pleased that we’ve been able to reach an agreement on a new contract and convince James that this is the right place for his continued career progression. We know James’ ambition remains to play at the highest levels in Europe and we will continue to support him with his career aspirations.
“James is not only a special player; he is also a natural leader and fantastic role model, and with his added experience in Europe, we see him as a key player who will immediately help our team contend for more trophies. Since day one, our fans have been supportive of James and I’m sure that the return of one of their own and a player of his caliber will be a moment of celebration.”
The 6-1, 185-lb. Sands made 41 appearances while recording 2,495 minutes for Rangers, contributing one goal across all competitions. He was a member of the 2022 Scottish Cup winning side and featured in the 2021 Europa League final and in UEFA Champions League group play.
“I am excited to return to New York,” Sands said in a statement. “As someone who grew up in New York and played for local youth teams and the NYCFC academy, it was and continues to be a great honor to represent this club. NYCFC has had a tremendous impact on my development, the club’s support of my initial step in Europe and continued understanding of my career goals has been very important to me.
“I would like to thank Rangers for the fantastic opportunity to play with a top-notch European team. Reaching the Europa League final, playing in the Champions League, and winning the Scottish Cup are just a few of the many positive memories that I will take away with me. The level of support from the Rangers’ fans is second to none.
“As I return to New York, I am looking forward to playing with some of my former teammates as well as many new ones. I’m excited about the club’s vision for the future and hope I can use my experience abroad to help the club achieve its goals and bring home some more silverware for our incredible fans.”
A native of Rye, N.Y., Sands became NYCFC’s first Homegrown signing in 2017. He made his debut against the Colorado Rapids. Since then, the midfielder played in 76 matches, logging in 6,730 minutes and providing one assist across all competitions. Sands was a member of the squad that captured the 2021 MLS Cup. He also was named the NYCFC Young Player of the Year and being to the MLS All-Star team.