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On MLS: NYCFC has options to fill void left by Lampard departure


From biggest DP bust in MLS history,= to solid acquisition with the second highest goal total on the team. From oft-injured absentee to crucial piece in a franchise-first playoff run.

New York City FC star midfielder Frank Lampard has been polarizing to say the least in his time in MLS, but while his bang-for-buck value is up for debate, the gaping hole he leaves in NYCFC’s midfield is not.

When healthy, Lampard has been a key component in the middle for NYCFC, scoring goals with regularity and in big moments. When out, manager Patrick Vieira has had to shift and twist his line-up to compensate, moving wingers inside, defensive midfielders into more attacking roles, even starting forwards in the midfield at times.

So with Lampard’s contract up and now officially on the way out, how does NYCFC adjust in his absence?

Perhaps the simplest option is signing another DP midfielder to replace Lampard. Rumors are constantly circulating around players such as Samir Nasri, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Andres Iniesta, and Keisuke Honda. Another big-name midfielder could fit the bill and perhaps even improve the midfield if the new player can stay on the field more than Lampard managed to in New York.

But NYCFC has, if not an abundance, certainly no shortage of MLS-quality midfielders. Fan-favorite Tommy McNamara has occupied Lampard’s midfield role at times, and while he seems to have found a home on the left wing, he could certainly make the shift to a more central role. Mix Diskerud has been out of favor with Vieira since the early parts of the season, but unless NYCFC can find a willing buyer of his huge contract, he’ll likely be around next season and could finally step up and into a significant role. NYCFC fans may not love the idea, but Mikey Lopez could also see increased time to fill in the gaps. The point being, NYCFC has bigger needs elsewhere that an open DP slot could fix.

Were NYCFC to shift McNamara to Lampard’s role, and perhaps not renew their loan of or purschase Steven Mendoza, the open DP slot could be used to fill in the left wing position that would be vacated. MLS has seen a boon of talented attacking Central and South Americans of late, a market NYCFC seems happy to tap into with players like Mendoza, Federico Bravo, and Ronald Matarrita, and the team could perhaps find an option in that manner.

The DP could be used to patch other crucial holes as well. While Vieira seems confident that Maxime Chanot and Frederic Brillant are his centerback pairing for the near future, behind them is an unsettling lack of depth. Jason Hernandez is an older player while Jefferson Mena has been hugely polarizing due to his obvious physical ability, but poor technique and performances. A veteran DP centerback would likely do well in MLS and could be the answer to NYCFC’s defensive woes.

Lampard’s tenure has had a massive impact on NYCFC, playing a huge role in the team’s second-year turnaround, but his departure and the resulting changes could play an even bigger role than his time with the club. Only time will tell what Vieira and NYCFC have planned for next season, but Lampard’s departure has given them options to work with as they attempt to take the next step forward.


  1. For his salary kind of money, you better get an very large upgrade….and it shouldn’t be hard to do.

    • Over a season and a half he had 15 goals and 4 assists. That’s a goal every 134 minutes. His .84 goals per 90 minutes was the best in MLS this season. He outperformed other DPs like Drogba, Keane, Kamara, Bradley, Gerrard, Accam, and Dempsey this season. Did NYCFC and Man City mess up his introduction sure and he was about as durable as you’d expect a 38 year old to be, but he did produce especially this season under Viera.

  2. Instead of aging big names MLS teams should go for guys more in their prime who are known qualities, but not as well known. Lodeiro, Valeri, and even Barnetta are good examples. Poach a good player from Boca Juniors or a good Brazilian club, or even from a secondary European first division like Holland or Portugal. Once again I will say that MLS should allow a team to use what would be DP money of a set amount for multiple players. 6 players at $500 k each instead of one at $3 million, for example. Or 3 at $1 million each. Teams would be better with that approach.

    • That is the point of TAM. Giving teams a budget to give those mid tier players enough of a financial incentive to play in MLS.

      The three DP slots are more about marketing than about creating best team possible. I think it’s obvious that if you could pay your 10 field players $1 million a piece you’d have a better team than a team that is paying two guys $5 million and surrounding them by players that are making the league minimum.

      That’s why the Liga MX teams are always better in CCL. They have more balanced roster and a more balanced pay role. You may say all the time that MLS should allow teams to spread the typical DP budget around, but that practice has been done in other leagues long before you starting saying it.

      • Most other leagues have not had a salary cap. Most other leagues have a few consistently dominant teams with the other teams fighting for scraps. When a new team gets into the top tier in those other leagues it is most often due to a super rich owner taking over and spending like crazy.

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