Having already run the gauntlet in the first opportunity at his new team Rangers FC, James Sands took questions from the press today, touching on a number of topics about his experience in Scotland and some key differences to MLS.
Due to a number of factors, including injuries, a busy run of fixtures, and a teammate participating in the Africa Cup of Nations, the New York-born Sands was already thrust into Rangers’ lineup in their first game of 2022, not even two weeks after his arrival.
Now with a pair of starts under his belt, the American international sat down with the Scottish press ahead of their Premiership visit Ross County on Saturday.
The full press conference can be viewed here.
Sands spoke on a number of topics, ranging from advice he received from his former coach at New York City FC, Ronny Deila, who previously coached at The Gers main rivals Celtic, and his overall adjustment to the new setting.
“I spoke to Claudio Reyna as well, just because I know him from my time in New York,” Sands revealed in regards to his discussions prior to agreeing to the current loan deal. Reyna spent a pair of successful seasons at Rangers around the turn of the millennium, coincidentally including the time when Sands was born.
In regards to his quick start on the field for the team, he commented, “It’s great for a young player to be able to experience that. I knew the boss had big expectations for me and I think he showed that a little bit in starting [me] away at Aberdeen, and then home the other night [against Livingston].”
The versatile player also admitted that having the opportunity to play his preferred tactical role on the field, in the middle of the park, is a big part of why he decided to join Rangers.
“[The] holding midfielder role is where I’m most comfortable,” he revealed. “At my previous club, I bounced around a little bit and I’ve played center back for the national team as well. But I’m definitely more comfortable at holding mid, and a big reason why I came here is that they they saw me in that position.”
Sands indicated that he sees major differences between Scotland and MLS, not only in terms of roster depth, but also the variety of playing styles that must be expected from game to game.
“In New York and most MLS teams, you have your starting lineup set, and as long as everybody’s healthy, that’s the lineup you know the coach will go with,” he posited. “Whereas over here, you have quality throughout the roster, everybody is pushing for a starting spot, and it adds to the competition a little bit.”
With two starts under his belt, he had the experience of facing two very different teams, and was surprised by already how much variety it has shown in comparison to MLS.
“One of the the big takeaways from that game [against Livingston] was learning what different styles there are in this league. In MLS, you get a lot of teams that are very similar, so the games are teams trying to play the same way; [there’s] not much to separate it. Whereas over here you have teams that will try and play two completely different styles.”
Sands covers these topics as well as a range of others at the link above.