Frank Lampard finally made his season debut for New York City FC in Saturday’s Hudson River Derby against the New York Red Bulls, but it was a game he and his teammates will want to forget in a hurry.
Patrick Vieira’s side went into the clash with their local rivals at Yankee Stadium on a franchise-record five-match unbeaten run but were brought back down to earth in humiliating fashion, losing 7-0 in a matchup which was as one-sided as the scoreline suggests.
Red Bulls skipper Dax McCarty opened the scoring after only three minutes before Bradley Wright-Phillips struck twice in quick succession just before half-time to increase the visitors’ lead to three.
McCarty then added his second six minutes after the break before Homegrown midfielder Alex Muyl made it 5-0 five minutes later with his first MLS goal.
Jesse Marsch’s men were not done there, though, as Gonzalo Veron and Gideon Baah each added to the rout in the final 10 minutes to help equal the league record for the biggest-ever winning margin.
Lampard, who had previously been sidelined since suffering a calf injury during preseason, came on for Andrea Pirlo for the final 15 minutes but managed just 15 touches of the football and was even subjected to boos from his own supporters.
NYCFC have now lost all four of their games against the Red Bulls since entering MLS in 2015 and Vieira, who replaced Jason Kreis as head coach last November, compared the result to the 6-1 defeat he suffered at the hands of Manchester United during his Arsenal career.
“I think on this level, especially in derby games, if you don’t match the desire and competitiveness of the opposition, you have what happened today,” Vieira said in his post-match press conference. “Conceding four goals on set pieces was unacceptable and this is a really disappointing game for us.
"I'm fully behind the team and the players and this is an experience we just have to forget. I had the experience as a player of losing 6-1 against United. It's never easy, but I think It will be a good test for us to see how strong we are and how strong our team spirit us because we have to bounce back from the game."
Despite the dismal result, NYCFC still sit second in the Eastern Conference through their first 13 games of the 2016 campaign, having recorded four wins, four draws and suffered five defeats to leave them with 17 points.
After missing the playoffs by 12 points in their inaugural season, the team has clearly made some big strides forward during the initial stages of Vieira's reign and the Frenchman does not want his side to forget their previous good work.
"I told the players that we're not throwing away what we did at the beginning of the season," he added. "We've at times played some good football, we've won games, lost games and I think today was just about the emotional side of the game that we didn't control.
"We were a little bit too anxious, too nervous and we didn't play."