LA Galaxy v New York City FC was billed as the marquee match of the MLS season with both clubs loaded up with expensive, big-name talent. Though Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos, David Villa, and Andrea Pirlo would all be on the pitch, the “British invasion” was the focus of the pre-match build-up as Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard would face each other for the first time in MLS (and roughly the nine millionth time overall in their careers).
They were the first two players selected to the MLS All Star team, but neither of them even attended the match. A television special entitled “Gerrard and Lampard in America” also aired in July, showing a behind the scenes look at their first days with their respective clubs this season.
So the stage was set. And then Lampard did what he does best and didn’t play for NYCFC. He wasn’t even named in the squad as a lingering injury limited him to a seat up in the stands.
At this point, it was already too late, though. The Gerrard v Lampard matchday programs had already been printed up and the $33 Gerrard v Lampard Adidas T-shirts were already on sale…even though selling a T-shirt for $33 should be a criminal offense and selling $33 T-shirts for something that wasn’t even happening should carry a life sentence.
Whether Lampard was playing or not, the hype had worked and fans of all these stars were in attendance at an MLS match they might not have cared about otherwise.
But the other problem with the promotion surrounding this match was the fact that it pitted the five-time MLS champions, who have built arguably the strongest team in MLS history, against a club in its first year of existence with players who have spent more time watching each other on television than being on the same pitch together.
The difference between the two collections of players as teams became plain as day once the match began and the Galaxy ran up a 4–0 lead before finally winning 5–1, with a brace from Keane and goals from Dos Santos, Gyasi Zardes and Sebastian Lletget (David Villa converted a penalty for NYCFC in the 80th minute). Frank Lampard was not amused.
Pirlo was a broken man.
And Steven Gerrard’s wife Alex was kind of bored.
The Galaxy’s star trio had a pretty great time, though.
Despite all that, the Galaxy still get a loss on the day because these puns are absolutely terrible…
So maybe MLS jumped the gun a bit on their dream Los Angeles v New York spectacular. But with a little more time and a Frank Lampard who actually plays for the team that first unveiled him over a year ago, this should become the internationally recognized centerpiece that the league hopes it will be.
Here are the match highlights…