NYCFC star James Sands has joined legendary Scottish Premiership club Rangers FC on an 18-month loan, completing a long-awaited move abroad for the versatile player.
Rangers announced the move on their website, giving details of the long-term loan deal with the MLS club.
“Rangers are today delighted to announce the signing of United States international James Sands from New York City FC on an initial 18-month loan agreement subject to work permit and international clearance,” the club announced. “Rangers hold an exclusive option to buy.”
The 21 year-old recently won the MLS Cup with the New York-based club, the first of their history since joining the league as an expansion team in the 2015 season. Sands was the first-ever home-grown player from the NYCFC academy to join their first-team roster, and has become one of their standout players during his three years as a regular starter.
One of the draws emphasized by the Scottish club is the New York native’s versatility, as he can play multiple positions in the midfield and defense, giving Rangers head coach Giovanni van Bronkhorst flexibility in his gameday lineups.
“James is a player who I have been aware of for some time,” the Dutch coach stated in the team’s press release. “His versatility was a big attraction and I’ve been impressed with his attitude and mentality in the games that I have watched recently.”
Sands’ play in MLS has already led him to earn seven caps for Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT. Most recently, he was called into the team during the middle of the November World Cup Qualifying window as cover for a pair of missing players, however was an unused substitute for the game.
He was a part of the squad that lifted the CONCACAF Gold Cup over the summer, having started and played the entirety of all games in the tournament except for the opening group-stage game.
Sands joins a Rangers team that is currently on top of the Premiership standings, with a six-point gap ahead of second-place bitter archrivals Celtic. His move to Glasgow all but ensures that at least a pair of all-Yank Old Firm derbies will take place, with Cameron-Carter Vickers a locked-in starter for Celtic.
Rangers return to action on January 17 with a visit to Christian Ramirez and Aberdeen, with Sands’ first chance to experience the Old Firm being on February 2 in Celtic Park.