Rangers FC put in a stellar team performance last night when they traveled to the Netherlands to take on Ruud van Nistelrooy’s PSV Eindhoven at the Phillips Stadion and came away with a 1-0 victory that now puts them into the group stages of the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League.
James Sands, on an extended loan from New York City FC, was one of the players on the backline that helped Jonathan McLaughlin earn the clean sheet that was detrimental in seeing the Glaswegian side return to Europe’s biggest competition after a 12-year absence.
Head coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst spoke about his American defender in his post-game press conference, stating how Sands has become an important part of the team.
“James was here last season as well (during the Europa League campaign), but I think the minutes that he gets now and the playing time is the most that he got (so far),” the Dutchman said. “So I’m really happy with his performances and the level he has reached.”
Sands also spoke to the media after the famous victory.
“I haven’t had many experiences like that in my career,” he told Rangers TV. “And it’s an unbelievable feeling.
Just having the guys that we have on the field around me; it just makes my job that much easier.”
The American had nothing but praise for his central defensive partner, Englishman Connor Goldson.
“He’s massive! He’s such a leader back there,” Sands said.
“A part of my game that I need to improve is the communication and leadership and (Connor is) top class at that. It’s great for me to just watch him and learn off him. And he gets my back in the games, so that’s nice.”
Having taken part in last year’s Europa League where Rangers made it all the way to the final where they were devastated, losing in the penalty shoot-out to Eintracht Frankfurt, the team’s goal was to step up to the next higher competition – the Champions League.
“When I got here it (Champions League) still seemed far away. We had to go through a lot to get in this position. But time flies and I think we’ve just gotten stronger over time as a team. I think it’s well deserved at this point.”
And according to the 22-year-old, Rangers are full of confidence after their great run last year.
“You look at the teams last year that we beat at home; we proved we could hang with anyone and beat anyone. So I think we’ll go into the group stage with confidence and kind of excitement about testing ourselves against the best.”
Sands summed up his feelings after the game with, “Unbelievable night. Unbelievable win. Onto the Champions League.”