Pirlo, Lampard find their roles within NYCFC

Frank Lampard

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

It took until late September but New York City FC finally have everyone on the same page — including Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo.

NYCFC have won their last three games while only conceding once from the run of play. That is a first for the club. They have scored at least two goals in each of those games while continuing to maintain high passing and possession percentages.

Head coach Jason Kreis said he sees the team is beginning to click.

“I’m looking out there watching the game, I’m seeing a lot of the tactical stuff now happening we’ve been trying to preach now for the better part of the entire season and had to re-preach and re-teach when the new players came in, so really pleased with the performances,” Kreis said after NYCFC’s 2–1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

NYCFC’s three-game winning streak started with a 2–0 win against Toronto FC in which Lampard and Pirlo drove the team’s attack while David Villa was sidelined. Lampard scored the game’s opening goal and Pirlo assisted on both goals for the win. Since then, Lampard picked up an assist, has taken more shots on goal and scored the opening goal in last Saturday’s win. Pirlo assisted Lampard’s goal and has completed at least 80 percent of his passes in each of the last three matches.

“For me, it’s about fitness. When I’m fit, I know I can score goals, I can contribute,” Lampard told the Daily News on Tuesday. “It’s been a race against time, which has been unfortunate, but I certainly feel much better now.

Pirlo has played the full 90 minutes in all but two matches this season. His race against time has never been about fitness but about establishing relationships with teammates. The missed marks and giveaways that led to goals conceded and points being dropped were a byproduct of the regista and his teammates simply not knowing each other.

As Pirlo and his teammates have gotten time to gel, the mistakes have gone down and the chances created increased. Pirlo has seven key passes (passes that lead directly to shots) in the past two games. Lampard and Villa have been and will continue to be the players who take the most shots. It is up to Pirlo to play the passes that allow for Lampard to find space to shoot from distance or for Villa to get a quick shot on goal.

Pirlo’s task of creating chances is not as simple as getting DPs the ball near the goal. When the two players most likely to score are both in the middle, teams will compress their defensive shape to limit the space available. That means there is space for the attacking team to work the overlap and that is what NYCFC have done to great effect in both of Lampard’s goals.

Although NYCFC are still in the playoff hunt for this year, Lampard already cast a glance at next year when he said that a full preseason would go a long way towards him finding his form. Pirlo is still involved with the Italian National Team and will have to be in good form to earn a call-up to the Euro 2016 roster.

Lampard, Pirlo and the rest of the NYCFC squad will be able build a stronger understanding during a full preseason together in 2016. That’s the positive effect of time.

For the negative effect of time, NYCFC have three games left in their 2015 season, and their playoff hopes hang by a thread. If their current run of form continues, however, it will be Lampard and Pirlo pushing the team towards that goal — not hindering the progression of the club.

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  • Louie Depalma

    Yeah well. Too little, too late. Unprofessional and disrespectful towards the fans of boy city earlier in the year being in **** shape. I still think Pirlo has major heart issues.

    • Tommy L.

      What do you mean? Like literal or figurative/emotional heart issues?

    • Anonymous

      It takes time for a team to gel.they seem to have got it now and not season will be a different ball game

  • NYCsportspunk

    why is this even a story, Too little Too late is right on, that should be the name of the piece !

    • Jesse Custer

      Because this website writes about soccer

    • William

      relax plastic team fanboy

      • Anonymous

        relax plastic team’s farm team fanboy

        • William

          but oh at least the attendance is good !!!! don’t expect that next year Blue Group fans !!!!!!!!!!!!!! the place stinks it up

  • Sergio

    Why did Lampard take a month an a half vacation after the EPL season ended. Why did Pirlo f*%k off for two weeks after signing his contract?

    • William

      I would like to either ship them out or give them a swift kick in the ARSE !