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Lampard has saved his MLS career

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Just two months ago, Frank Lampard’s ‘American Dream’ appeared firmly on the ropes. The English midfielder had hoped for a quiet end to his career with a spell in the States, but received quite the opposite. However, it appears in recent weeks that Lampard has turned his fortunes around. It’s proven a resurgence that has likely saved his New York City FC and MLS tenure.

May 22nd saw NYCFC suffer the incomparable ignominy of losing the New York derby 7-0 on home turf. Even if you don’t follow American football (or soccer, but I’m not entering that debate) it wasn’t rocket science to grasp the jaw dropping nature of this result. It proved a particularly bad day for Lampard who received a toxic reception upon being subbed late in the game.

Frankly, his own supporters berated the 38-year-old. The derby demolition proved the culmination of a tumultuous first year in the Big Apple. In fact, many US publications had cited the Chelsea legend as the worst MLS signing of all time. Not of the season, not of the past 10 years, but of all time.

While this level of criticism was certainly taking it too far, there was reason to be critical of Lampard. The midfielder found the net just thrice in the 2015 season, appeared overweight at times and was riddled with injury. Consequently, upon returning from an injury spell this May, the fans were keen to make their feelings known.

From their point of view, the club had signed the Premier League’s fourth most prolific player of all time and an England legend, but had reaped little reward from his arrival. What did they have to show from their purchase? By May, a tap-in against DC United was pretty much the lot.

L2Since the 38-year-old has found his head on the chopping block however, he’s seemingly saved himself. Today saw this fact confirmed as Lampard became the first player in NYCFC history to score a hat trick. Five goals in the 2016 season before this weekend had already improved popular opinion, but the past day has certainly swayed it. Lampard now has eight goals in eight starts this season and he’s a midfielder.

The Colorado Rapids were the team to feel the might of Lampard this weekend in a 5-0 thrashing. He first volleyed home at the back post past Tim Howard, before whipping a superb effort into the net to double his tally. With the game entering its last seven minutes, the ex-Chelsea man put the match to bed with a thunderous penalty down the middle.

New York City FC’s history may only amount to a total of two years, but Lampard had beaten David Villa to that inaugural hat trick nonetheless. Moreover, the demolition job saw NYCFC clamber to the summit of the Eastern Conference ahead of their Big Apple neighbours. It’s fair to say Lampard and his side have come a long way since their Red Bull blood bath.

Lampard may have envisaged a gentle conclusion to his career on the east coast, but it’s been far from an easy ride. That being said, the 38-year-old has turned his fortunes around and dodged contract termination this week. Those overly keen American magazines won’t be so swift to call him the worst MLS signing of all time now methinks.

 

Kobe Tong

YJA Senior Correspondent