Chelsea legend Frank Lampard’s long-awaited Major League Soccer debut didn’t go according to plan on Saturday as the Montreal Impact handed his New York City FC a 3-2 defeat.
More than a year after it was announced he had signed to play this season with the fledgling NYCFC, Lampard at last took the field for them, coming on in the 69th minute of a match at Yankee Stadium.
But Lampard’s presence — completing a star NYCFC trio along with Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo and Spanish striker David Villa — wasn’t enough as Ignacio Piatti scored twice — once from the penalty spot in the 84th minute — to help the Impact nab the away triumph.
Goals from Dominic Oduro and Piatti gave the Impact a 2-0 halftime lead before Villa pulled one back with a penalty in the 68th minute.
Although Lampard received a warm welcome from New York fans when he came on a minute after Villa converted, he admitted he felt pressed to find an equalizer.
“It’s always difficult to come in when you’re chasing the game because you need to get straight into it and you’re trying to force things because you need to score goals so you sometimes play forward quicker,” Lampard said. “It was the usual difficulties.”
After Piatti had stretched Montreal’s lead, Villa helped create Thomas McNamara’s 85th-minute goal for the hosts, but that was as close as New York could get.
The match marked Pirlo’s first MLS start. The Italian had made his debut in the North American league as a substitute in New York’s home win over Orlando last weekend.
NYCFC announced Lampard’s signing in July 2014 — when the club was still building toward the start of its first MLS campaign in March of this year.
However, Lampard’s arrival Stateside was controversially delayed after his loan to Manchester City was extended through the end of the 2014-15 Premier League season.
He joined up with his new outfit in July, but his debut was repeatedly delayed because of a nagging calf injury.
“We needed to limit Frank to under 30 minutes,” New York coach Jason Kreis said. “If it was up to the training staff, they would have limited him to under 20.
“We made a negotiation and wanted to get Frank on there for as long as we could and 25 (minutes) was the answer.”
Lampard was pleased to finally get on the pitch, and looking forward to his first start.
“I’ll hopefully get the calf right, get some fitness in the meantime and start contributing quickly because you know this season is going on and we need to win games,” Lampard said. – Agence France-Presse