Talking Soccer: Lampard’s New York exit punishes U.S. soccer

Frank Lampard, back during his days playing for Chelsea. The midfielder announced he would by leaving NYC FC at the end of his contract. (Ronnie MacDonald/Flickr, Creative Commons)

Yesterday New York City FC announced that legendary soccer player Frank Lampard would be leaving the team at the end of his two-year contract. Lampard scored only three goals in 10 games for his new club in New York, after a strange and delayed move from Chelsea that included a run at Manchester City. The all-time leading goal scorer for Chelsea, he proved himself capable of producing goals with 12 scored in the 19 games he has played for New York City FC this season.

The short time the midfielder spent in the MLS does look worrisome however as the league is still desperate for international talent. If they can’t keep players like Lampard who are riding out the last years of their career, then the league might stop looking like a popular destination for superstar players from the big leagues. Even aging players like Robbie Keane and Giovani dos Santos are still shoulders above the rest of the talent in the league, with David Villa ranking second in goals scored this season behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

China has continued to bring in top talent such as Ramires, Jackson Martinez, Ezequiel Lavezzi, and Gervinho. The Chinese president has announced a campaign to establish a sports economy worth over $800 billion by 2025. Without keeping those star players at the end of their career for longer, the MLS could face becoming unpopular and unprofitable. The U.S. men’s national team have looked pitiful lately in World Cup qualifiers and if neither the national team nor the professional league can bring entertainment to the American people, then it will most likely die out as it previously has. 

While it is awesome to be able to see legends like Frank Lampard playing soccer in the United States, the MLS will have to work harder to keep these older players in the league. This needs to happen if they hope to keep growing and remain popular. China is growing quicker and getting great young players. If the MLS doesn’t keep pushing itself, it could not only fail to attract young talent but also lose its reputation as a fantastic retirement league.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.