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NYCFC loses James Sands to broken collarbone

New York City FC midfielder James Sands, right,

New York City FC midfielder James Sands, right, moves the ball up the pitch away from FC Cincinnati forward Fanendo Adi during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Thursday, June 6, 2019. New York City FC won 5-2.  Credit: AP/Steve Luciano

What had been a breakout season for New York City FC’s first homegrown player seems all but over.

James Sands, 19, likely requires surgery to repair a broken collarbone suffered in Saturday’s victory over FC Cincinnati, head coach Domènec Torrent said Monday, putting the rest of his season in doubt.

“I think he needs surgery, that means he needs maybe eight weeks, it depends,” Torrent said.

In his third season with NYCFC’s senior group, Sands became a key cog in the first team. After just 246 combined minutes over his first two seasons, Sands already had started 19 games this season, originally working as defensive midfielder, then slotting into centerback as part of a three-man defensive line.

Torrent was disappointed for the youngster after some inspiring play this season.

“It’s a pity for the player, for us, but it’s soccer, it is what it is,” Torrent said. “It’s not good for us, it’s not fair for this player especially. He’s had to play this year and he’s played amazing, but we have to get used to working without Jimmy.”

Sands, a Rye native, became NYCFC’s first homegrown player when he signed a professional contract in June 2017. He was injured in City’s first game against Cincinnati back in June, suffering a broken bone in his arm that forced him out for over a month.

NYCFC striker Héber Araujo dos Santos said losing the youngster would be a blow to the squad but also had some words of encouragement for Sands.

“In soccer, it’s hard, sometimes this happens, but we have a strong team, we have very good players,” Héber said. “I told him my history because seven years ago I broke my leg, so I was like him, 20 years old or so. I told him to keep working, not think so much because you’ll come back stronger now. I was eight months out and it was a hard, hard time for me. But I come back stronger and now I’m here, top scorer on the team. Football is very fast, and it all can change very fast.”

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