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USMNT adds James Sands to roster for qualifier vs. Jamaica

New York City FC defender James Sands has been called in by U.S. men’s national team coach Gregg Berhalter to join the USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica in Kingston.

Weston McKennie (yellow-card accumulation) and Miles Robinson (red card) are suspended for the Jamaica match and will return to their clubs.

Sands has made seven appearances for the USMNT, with all of them coming in 2021. He impressed at the Gold Cup over the summer, helping the USMNT win the tournament. His most recent national team start came in the USMNT’s 4-1 win over Honduras in World Cup Qualifying.

Sands has played both in central defense and in defensive midfield, versatility that will help provide some cover for the absences of both McKennie and Robinson.

The Americans moved to first place in the octagonal round table with a 2-0 victory over Mexico on Friday night, with McKennie scoring the insurance goal after Christian Pulisic’s opener off the bench. McKennie received his yellow card after a skirmish involving players from both teams, a sequence that included Mexico’s Luis Rodriguez appearing to try to pull up USMNT winger Brenden Aaronson by his eye sockets in a red card-worthy moment of madness that went unpunished.

Berhalter has several lineup options to fill in for the Juventus midfielder. Kellyn Acosta played eight minutes off of the bench in Friday’s match while Sebastian Lletget, Gianluca Busio, and Cristian Roldan were unused substitutes. All four are possible replacements to start in McKennie’s role.

Robinson picked up his first yellow card in the 59th minute for a foul on Rodriguez before being sent off in the 90th minute when he was issued a second yellow card for an apparent foul on Hirving Lozano.

The Atlanta United defender has boosted his stock with the USMNT this year, starting 12 matches since mid-July, emerging as the leading central defender in Berhalter’s pecking order.

Chris Richards and Mark McKenzie will compete to replace Robinson in the USMNT backline, while Sands’ arrival will help give Berhalter some different options, and the ability to deploy a three-centerback setup if he needs to make a tactical change during Tuesday’s match.

Sands thrived playing in a three-centerback setup for the USMNT during the Gold Cup, though his most recent appearance for the United States came in a struggling performance as a defensive midfielder in September’s 4-1 win against Honduras.


  1. Sands call-up is more for cover in the event of injury than anything else.
    Richards should slot right in as the replacement for Robinson.
    Busio should be the replacement for McKennie….but I have the feeling that Gregg will go with Lletget. Busio provides more control and better passing range, so I’m hoping he’ll get the nod. Only worry I have w/ Busio is the physical play of Jamaica….his smaller stature and playing away could be difficult.

  2. For me Busi is the best like for like replacement for McKennie, even if the goalscoring threat isnt equitable. Busio is a threat on set pieces ans his ability to drop dimes over the top of defenses and line splitting passes to open up the defense. Furthermore, Greg name dropped Busio as pushing for a starting spot bc of his play with Venezia, so I’m expecting Gianluca to replace Weston


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