Vieira: Despite goal, Lampard still not at his best

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by CHRISTIAN ARAOS

Frank Lampard scored for the second consecutive match and played the most minutes in a match this season. Despite the milestones, Patrick Vieira maintains that Lampard is not fully match fit.

“He is still not at his best because he’s been out for quite awhile,” the New York City FC head coach said. “When you look at the number of goals he’s scored during his career, I’m not surprised he scored today or in the last game.”

Vieira said he had yet to see Lampard’s 38th minute goal. Seconds after having a chance deflect wide, Lampard redirected R.J. Allen’s cross for the game’s opening goal. Although referee Alan Kelly said he did not see a handball, replays showed the ball striking Lampard’s hand before it went in. Lampard said he was pleased to part of the team’s complete performance.

“I’m getting towards 100 percent,” Lampard told nycfc.com. “Just to start the last two games and score two goals to help us win games is great. It’s even better to be part of a winning team.”

Lampard played 84 minutes on field turf Saturday afternoon. He completed 43 of 50 passes and took four shots. His ability to join the attack was particularly encouraging, Vieira said. The challenge, he said he faces, is getting the 38-year-old fit enough to make his recent performances the norm rather than an outlier.

“What is important for me and the staff is to keep him fit and work with him,” Vieira said. “If we can, he will have the same performances that he had the last week or today.”