Purchase, N.Y. – “It compared, it compared with derbies I played in England, simple as that,” Frank Lampard said. Lampard was talking about the latest rivalry in his long and storied career, his New York City FC vs. the New York Red Bulls.
Lampard will participate in his first Hudson River Derby this Sunday at Red Bull Arena, but the veteran was watching from a Yankee Stadium suite on June 28 when his new club lost 3-1 at home, and result aside, Lampard came away impressed.
Derbies, rivalries, clasico’s, whatever you want to call them, the NYCFC star midfielder knows all about them, so we would do well to listen when Chelsea’s all time leading goalscorer talks about the local showdowns.
Lampard addressed the topic Friday afternoon at NYCFC’s practice facility in bucolic suburban Westchester County ahead of Sunday’s third edition of this promising matchup.
“I think the atmosphere at the Yankee Stadium was fantastic, from both sets of fans, but particularly from our home fans that day.”
Having played for London clubs West Ham and Chelsea from 1995-2014 and given the number of clubs in Old Blighty’s capital city, not many have taken part in more derbies than the former England international.
Lending added spice to Sunday’s matchup is the playoff race in the tightly bunched MLS Eastern Conference. The Red Bulls have ridden a hot streak to second place in the conference with 33 points, while NYC took a tough loss last week to Montreal and with 24 points the high spending newcomers sit two spots and four points out of the final playoff position.
Despite his own neophyte status in the league, Lampard is well aware of the game’s importance in the standings. “Yeah, definitely. That goes to facts- three points is what we need no matter who we are playing this week.”
“The games are getting crucial now, the games are getting less and we need the points,” Lampard acknowledged, “but you should never take away from the derby and what it means in the city.”
In what must be sweet music to the ears of MLS Commissioner Don Garber, the main mover behind a second MLS team in New York, Lampard expanded on his thoughts. “You have to be proud of the club you’re playing for and just look at the fact we’ve been beaten twice by them. It seems like they enjoyed those wins, as you would do,” Lampard chuckled. “I think we’ll take a bit of pride there and try to redress that balance.”
The Red Bulls took the first game in the rivalry 2-1 at Red Bull Arena back in May, before going into Yankee Stadium and coming away with that 3-1 win in June.
For all of his experience in big time derby games, Lampard is clearly anxious to step onto the field this Sunday versus the Red Bulls.
“I think any top player playing in a top league wants to play in those atmospheres, you can’t buy that, that’s what gets you up that’s what make you want to play the game.”
The Red Bulls are playing well, they are the more settled team, and the home team will be favored.
Lampard will be looking to do his part to get the new kids in town a first victory over the MLS originals.
“There’s not a better feeling than getting one over on your local rivals,” Lampard said on Friday, “so that’s what we’ll be trying to do, all of us.”