New York City FC player James Sands believes his performance during the Gold Cup cemented his future with the U.S. men’s national team.
As World Cup qualifiers fast approach, Gregg Berhalter used the Nations League and Gold Cup to assess the plethora of players fighting for a spot in the upcoming roster. The USMNT head coach rested European stars like Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic and Gio Reyna to assess potential young players, among those James Sands.
“I think with my performances at the Gold Cup, I’ve at least put myself into the conversation,” the 21-year-old said when assessing his place in the USMNT player pool. “I fully understand that there’s a lot of talented players who weren’t on that roster and who are on the Nations League roster, so it will definitely be tough to win a spot on the qualifying or World Cup roster.”
“But at least I’m now in the conversation and at least they’re watching my games in New York now. I feel like that’s a big step forward for me. I didn’t always feel like that was the case, so I’m just going to have to keep working and I’m totally willing to fight for a spot on those rosters.”
Sands formed an important partnership with Atlanta United defender Miles Robinson throughout the Gold Cup to secure and stabilize the American defense. Together, they contributed to the team’s five shutouts in six matches.
“He was pleased with how I was able to fight in all of those games,” Sands said of conversations with Berhalter. “It’s easy to be a good player when things are going well and you’re beating teams 6-1, 6-0. But I think it’s a better test of character when the games are not going well and you’re on the back foot a little bit and showing the coach that you can fight through those tough moments. That’s a lot of what Concacaf is, so I think he was proud of seeing that from me.”