|Frank Lampard gets the step on DC's Rob Vincent. USA Today Sports.|
Frank Lampard had a night dreams are made of Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
New York City Football Club honored Lampard before the game for reaching 300 career goals, and he followed that up with two goals on the night to give NYCFC a huge 3-2 win over DC United.
DC United got the scoring started in the 36th minute when ex-Red Bull Lloyd Sam gave them a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the 79th minute, when NYCFC's David Villa took advantage of a DC mistake, got the ball, came in on a breakaway and got a shot under DC goalkeeper Bill Hamid to tie it at 1.
It was Villa's league-leading 17th goal of the season.
In the 85th minute, NYCFC kept the pressure on, as they won a challenge for the ball along the touch line, then Jack Harrison won one in the box to keep the play alive. The ball went to Lampard on the right side, and he drilled it to give NYCFC a 2-1 lead.
One thing that NYCFC has done a good job of lately is avoiding giving up a late goal, and that streak ended in this one.
In the 91st minute, DC had a corner kick, and Julian Buescher sent it into the box, where Lamar Neagle headed it in to tie the game at 2.
That wasn't all for NYCFC, as Lampard got a feed from Khiry Shelton and came down the right side for the game-winner to give them back the lead, 3-2, in the 93rd minute and send Yankee Stadium into a frenzy.
Lampard's double in this one gives him six goals in his last six games.
NYCFC Head Coach Patrick Vieira said of the fight and determination of the team to get this win, “I think the fans and the people in front of the TV really enjoyed the game. It wasn’t a pretty game. I don’t think we played our best football, but sometimes I think it’s important to win when you don’t play well. I think tonight we showed a lot of character, a lot of desire, a lot of passion, and we kept believing until the end. And of course it takes something special to score in a crucial period of the game, and tonight it was Frank (Lampard), and I’m really pleased. I’m really pleased for him because he went through a difficult period early in the season where he didn’t play and the way that he responded was fantastic. I think he really showed how good he is, and to see him score goals, that’s something that we’re used to, but to see him keep scoring goals at this level, I think is terrific.”
This was NYCFC's fifth straight win at Yankee Stadium, and it moves them back into first place in the Eastern Conference. They are now 12-8-8, 44 points, one point ahead of Toronto and four points ahead of the Red Bulls.
Villa said of the importance of today’s match, “It’s very important in order to keep distance with the other teams, we are so close to our first objective, which is to be in the playoffs. Of course we have another six finals (games) but we are very close.”
Lampard said of what the comeback victory means for the team, “Good teams and big teams come back from bad moments and Orlando wasn’t great for us one the weekend. We weren’t our best then and then in the first half again today. I think it was a real important moment for us to show our spirit, to change the game with desire, with good play, and that’s a huge result for us. It doesn’t mean anything quite yet in terms of what we need to do, which is trying to get as close to the top of our conference as we can, get into the playoffs and then push on from there. It’s a great first step forward for us and we need to continue on from there.”
Lampard said of what changed momentum in the game, “They made a mistake for the goal and David stuffed it away comfortably and that changed it. I don’t think they controlled the game, but I think you’re right, they were defending pretty comfortably, they defended the box pretty well and it was hard to find some of the spaces in and around the box. Once we got that goal, we got momentum, we took control of the game and the crowd lifted.”
On if his 300+ goals are as fun as his first goal, Lampard said, “Yeah, certainly, last minute winners are always the best ones and I don’t get bored of that. I think that’s what you work for and when I was injured early in the season, you slug away in the gym and you kind of drain the months like that and that’s what inspires you to keep working away. I’ve had a lot of good feelings since I’ve been back but that was the best one because it was important for us to get that win.”
Lampard says of his current fitness level, “Even when I first came back I was scoring a few, but I still felt I needed more fitness. And in games now I’m feeling stronger and I’m fresh. I don’t feel I have a point to prove to people on the outside, I always feel I have a point to prove to myself and I don’t want this to be a club that I’ve come to at this point in my career where it doesn’t work, I came to make it work and I have that desire.”
New York City FC forward Khiry Shelton said of the team’s emotions to close out the game, “It was up and down, you know. It was like a roller coaster. We scored and were all happy and then we got scored on and we didn’t lose confidence in the team. We know we can score goals and we know we can play. Then we ended up getting the last one and hey, we were able to send everyone home happy, including ourselves. We’re gonna look at film and go over the game and pinpoint the areas we need to work on but we just have to continue to push and keep working our way towards the playoffs.”