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New York City FC welcomes players back from injury, international duty and suspension

Sep 5, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York City defender Ronald Matarrita (22) plays the ball against New England Revolution midfielder Scott Caldwell (6) during second half at Yankee Stadium. The New England Revolution defeated the New York City 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK — Midfielders Alex Ring and Ebenezer Ofori will be available when New York City FC returns from its two-week break to play at Montreal Sept.22. And stalwart Yangel Herrera is expected back in full training this week following a 15-week absence due to injury.

Consequently, 18-year-old James Sands will be relegated to the bench or sent on a second loan stint after his second consecutive start for New York City FC in their 1-1 draw with D.C. United Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Sands played three full matches in the midfield for the United Soccer League’s Louisville City before gaining his first two starts for a depleted NYCFC side. Ring served a yellow-card suspension during the D.C. United match and Ofori was on international duty with Ghana. Other players call-up to their national teams who also will be available for the next MLS match include Maxime Chanot (Luxembourg), Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica) and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (Libya).

“Jimmy played amazing, he played like someone with experience in MLS,” Torrent said after Sands appeared in just his third league game over two seasons. “Maybe the next month he plays in another team, because I need Jimmy to play in every single game (week).”

Sands would embrace the opportunity to return to Louisville under his former youth national team coach, John Hackworth.

“He’s really someone I trust. He was the coach of the under 17’s, and I was kind of on the bubble of that group and he gave me a few chances and I did really well,” Sands said. “He is someone I am really comfortable around and someone who I know is telling me the right thing.”

Mata in the Middle

Ronald Matarrita was named NYCFC ‘s defender of the year in 2016 – an attacking fullback who has three goals and 10 assists in just 41 starts during an injury-plagued three years.

Matarrita has also played as a wide forward or wing back. But in the last three matches, the Costa Rican international has performed as a central midfielder.

“I think he is more comfortable playing inside,” Torrent said. “He played really well the last two games. If you ask him about that, he’s really happy to play there. He’s able to play in three positions. That is good news for us.”

MLS Cup in Reach

New York City has just one win in its last eight matches, but Torrent believes the recent form gives the club hope to attain a championship.

“Believe me when I say, especially tonight, we have more possibility to try to win MLS if we are able to play in that way,” Torrent said after registering a 31-2 shot advantage over D.C. United. “If you want to win the next game, the best way is to play well. If you play sh**, like Columbus (2-1 loss) — long ball, long ball — forget it. It’s impossible to win a game.”

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