McDonald: Star Power Drives NYCFC

Before a month ago, there was the Yankee way.

Big name stars and high profile signings highlighted the roster.

You name it. The Jeters, A-Rods, Riveras, Sheffields, and the like.

It got them to the playoffs every year and it helped pack the house.

So when the Yankees announced they were going into the soccer business a few years ago, it made sense that NYCFC would be built the Yankee way.

In came Frank Lampard, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo and those three players have supported the club all season.

But unlike baseball, the stars that come over here in soccer are generally over the hill guys who come to the United States for one last paycheck and generally their star if fleeting because they only have a few good seasons left.

When Lampard signed to play here, it was considered more of a victory tour, where MLS would see what the Premier League enjoyed for many years.

Last year, though, Manchester City, who owns NYC with the Yankees, used Lampard over in England before sending him here over the summer.

However, this year, New York got the full Frank and he is the reason why the club is in first place in September.

Yesterday, NYC celebrated his 300th goal of his career and the 38 year-old capped it off with another two to stage NYCFC’s dramatic come from behind win over the DC United.

“We had just finished celebrating his 300 goals so we have to celebrate again these two more, and it’s great to have him on the team,” Pirlo said after the match.

Yes it is Andrea. As you see with baseball, most athletes tend to fall off the cliff around 38, but Lampard is more like David Ortiz and less like A-Rod here. Part of the reason is his conditioning.

“Even when I first came back I was scoring a few, but I still felt I needed more fitness,” Lampard said. “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.”

Soccer has a problem in the United States, since most of the best players tend to play their primes elsewhere. Around the world MLS is viewed as a minor league and retirement home.

It’s not going to change anytime soon, since many of the European teams have vested interests in MLS clubs. So we are stuck with the system we have now.

And it’s not a bad thing if you get players like Lampard, Pirlo and Villa, who have more than something left. Heck, even the New York Cosmos, who play in the league below the MLS, got into the act a few years ago when they signed Raul.

It’s nice to see these players, but like Raul and like Theirry Henry with the Red Bulls, they only play a handful of seasons over here.

So you have to enjoy them while you have them.

And Yankee Stadium, who once housed the Core 4, not enjoys the Big 2.

It’s that star powers that’s driving the club.

About the Author

Joe McDonald

Joe McDonald is the founder and former publisher of NY Sports Day. After selling to i15Media in 2020, he serves as the Editor-in-Chief and responsible for the editorial side of the publication. In the past, Joe was the managing editor of NY Sportscene magazine and assistant editor of Mets Inside Pitch. He has covered the Mets since 2004.

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