New York City FC officially announced Frank Lampard’s departure from the club on Monday. His exit from the Big Apple is a huge difference than his entrance.When New York City FC announced that English midfielder Frank Lampard was going to sign with them in July 2014 in Brooklyn’s Pier 5, many began to think about how strong NYCFC’s attack would become. The club just signed Spanish striker David Villa shortly prior and the pieces were starting to come into place.
Things looked up for a club that has yet to even kick a ball on the grounds of Yankee Stadium.
Unfortunately, that dream took a turn for the worse. Lampard’s loan at Manchester City was extended from January until May, then he suffered calf injury after calf injury. What was supposed to be an attack that showcased the likes of Villa, Lampard and then Italian midfield great Andrea Pirlo, often saw Villa perform a one-man act with Lampard just making the occasional cameo, being no more than a co-starring role in the new show in the Big Apple.
On Monday, NYCFC announced that the 38-year-old Lampard will depart from the club when his contract expires in the end of 2016, closing the curtain on NYCFC’s first attempt at their own big three set of designated players.
“As my time at NYCFC comes to an end, I would like to thank so many people for the kindness and support that they have shown me over the last two years,” he said in a press release.
“I have very much enjoyed my time, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to play for such a great club and in such an incredible city.”
Lampard ends his NYCFC career with 15 goals in 31 appearances for the club. His place will forever be cemented in club history with the first-ever hat-trick against the Colorado Rapids at home on July 30, a 5-1 win for the Blues.
While most supporters will remember the negatives of Frank Lampard’s time in New York City: skipping the first half of the 2015 MLS season to stay in Manchester City, then missing the beginning of the 2016 season due to injury; the lack of offensive production that the New York City supporters demanded more of and the fact that he played less than a season’s amount worth of matches in the two years; NYCFC and head coach Patrick Vieira credited Lampard with being the right mentor for its youth, particularly rookie Jack Harrison.
“What Frank has brought to the locker room is something just as important – his experience, his elite mentality and his mentorship for the younger members of our squad have helped us greatly this year,” said Vieira in a press release this morning.
Both Harrison and Lampard started the season on the injury list and both made their season debuts in NYCFC’s 7-0 loss against the Red Bulls at Yankee Stadium. Both also received polar opposite receptions upon hitting the pitch – Harrison cheer while Lampard jeered.
Although Lampard went on to have a fairly solid 2016 campaign (12 goals, 2 assists in 19 matches), especially in the summer, the damage to the fan base was already done.
As ineffective as he was during the playoff chase in the home stretch of the season, he was even more ineffective in the Eastern Conference semifinal against Toronto FC, being more of a liability than a spark in the midfield.
Everyone around the club knew that Lampard’s time in New York City and MLS was finished after this season. The injuries became too constant, he chased the game at times and eventually became an albatross of a designated player to a club that itself knows has to get younger.
But, as one would, Lampard saved the best moment for last: his departure.
Unlike his entrance to the Big Apple two years ago, there was no hiccups upon his exit, no talks of a potential extension, no question about it.
Just a simple, smooth exit.