Frank Lampard completes atonement with hat-trick

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

He arrived to New York City FC seven months late, but Frank Lampard has spent the past year making up for it.

Lampard completed his turn from pariah to hero Saturday afternoon wearing the captain’s armband while scoring the first hat-trick in New York City FC history. He has eight goals in 11 appearances this season for The Pigeons who’ve leapt to first place with six wins in their last eight matches.

“Frank is one of the best players, for me, even now,” assistant coach Cristian Lattenzio said. “He showed us at Man City that he can still make a difference and win games so now that he’s getting into the rhythm, he’s one of the best players in the world.

“In this system, he’s fantastic. He can build up play, he can finish like a striker…And also as a captain, he was magnificent. I thought he was a big influence in the team and we expect that. It’s Frank Lampard, one of the biggest names in the sport.”

Lampard’s time-tested ability to make runs from deep brought its own extra dimension to the NYCFC attack. Though he was having success before Michael Azira’s dismissal, Lampard particularly enjoyed the man advantage since it guaranteed the team would win the midfield.

Lattenzio said City wanted to play through the middle and they were able to through the short, intelligent combination plays Lampard orchestrated.

“He showed true leadership today,” Jack Harrison said. “He was a true captain at Chelsea and he showed it today. He proved everyone wrong showing that we do need him and he’s a key part of our success.”

The supporters were able to perfect the public address announcer’s call-and-answer for Lampard thanks to the three tries he gave them. It was as-if the boos and his own scandal ending in -gate never happened. Speaking after the game, Lampard discussed the importance of having squad players like Tony Taylor and Diego Martinez contribute and happily relinquished the leadership role.

“David is our captain and he does a very good job with it,” Lampard said. “I’m just on the pitch where he leads from the front and scores the goals. I think it’s important for all the players to show some leadership. I’ve been around a long time with great captains and as a captain myself sometimes.

“I’ve tried to use the experience of playing with great captains to help with that today. All you can do as captain is speak a little more, all the players need to do is perform and every one of us performed today.”