New York City FC’s Frank Lampard scored his third goal in the past four MLS games on Friday night but it was not enough to prevent his side from falling to a 2-1 defeat at Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United.
The Chelsea legend took just 48 seconds to open the scoring at RFK Stadium when he pounced on the rebound after D.C. goalkeeper Bill Hamid parried David Villa’s right-footed shot straight into his path.
NYCFC held onto their one-goal advantage until Lampard was substituted with 20 minutes remaining but the hosts found their equaliser just three minutes later through Fabian Espindola, who followed up Chris Pontius' saved strike with a simple finish.
The Argentine striker then helped set up United’s winner deep into stoppage-time when the visitors failed to clear his free-kick before Alvaro Saborio tapped in from close range to ice the result and end the home side's six-game winless streak in the process.
The victory also officially qualified Ben Olsen’s men for the 2015 MLS Cup Play-offs but, for NYCFC, the agonising late defeat leaves them on the brink of elimination ahead of their final two regular-season games.
The expansion side remain five points behind the Montreal Impact, who sit in the East’s sixth and final post-season spot with three games in hand, and will be eliminated if the Didier Drogba-inspired outfit beat Orlando City SC at the Citrus Bowl on Saturday night.
“I’m obviously shattered right now,” head coach Jason Kreis told MLSSoccer.com after the D.C. defeat. “What a great start by us, to score early like we did, but as the game wore on, I thought to myself, you can score too early.
“After the first goal, I felt that our guys maybe thought it was going to be a little easier than it was.”