After being cruelly labelled the worst Designated Player signing in MLS history only a few months ago following an injury-hit start to his NYCFC career, Lampard has since turned around his fortunes in remarkable fashion, netting nine goals in his last 10 games to win the league’s Player of the Month award for July.
The former Chelsea midfielder’s impressive form has also helped Patrick Vieira’s side establish themselves at the top of the Eastern Conference with 38 points – one more than they accrued over the entirety of their inaugural 2015 campaign – and put them on course to secure their first-ever playoff appearance with nine regular season matches remaining.
Gerrard, meanwhile, is also hitting his stride after a difficult start to life in LA. The ex-Liverpool captain failed to impress in the months following his arrival last summer and through the opening stages of the current campaign, but a recent move up the pitch to a more advanced role has led to an impressive turnaround.
In his last seven league games, the 36-year-old Englishman has set up seven of the Galaxy’s nine goals, scoring one, while his 11 assists on the season are also tied for second in MLS with reigning MVP Sebastian Giovinco.
Bruce Arena’s men now go into Saturday’s clash with NYCFC sitting third in the West on 38 points – seven behind the first-placed FC Dallas with two games in hand – and will extend their unbeaten streak to 10 matches if they avoid defeat.
For Lampard, it will be his first encounter with his old England teammate Gerrard since arriving in the States last July, having missed the 5-1 loss at the Galaxy the following month through injury, and the 38-year-old is looking forward to renewing the rivalry they shared during their Premier League days for potentially the last time before retirement.
“We’re used to that,” he told ESPN FC on the media building up his rivalry with Gerrard. “It was always Lampard vs Gerrard in the England team, and it was Chelsea vs Liverpool for many a year.
“I love it, but now I think we’re probably a bit more relaxed about it. I think we can enjoy it these days. It was probably more intense with Liverpool and Chelsea - we played each other so often!
“It wasn’t just me and Steven obviously, but people were always billing it as a midfield battle. I get on very well with Stevie and I think he’s doing very well other there. He’s had a fantastic career no matter what and is obviously an absolute legend of the game.
“Of course, when we step out we want to beat each other, but we’re very professional, we’ll enjoy the rivalry and we’ll each try to come out on top.”
Lampard will also face another familiar face on Saturday at Yankee Stadium, with former England and Chelsea teammate Ashley Cole currently enjoying somewhat of a career revival with the Galaxy.
The 35-year-old left-back’s signing in January was met with plenty of scepticism due to the past disparaging comments he made about MLS and his disastrous 18-month spell at Roma, but he has since managed to win over most of his doubters with some strong performances for the California outfit.
“We’re very close-knit, all of us,” Lampard told MLSSoccer.com earlier this week. “It will be a pleasure again to play against Ashley. I played against and with him before. For me, [he is] the best left-back England has ever produced and [was] the best left-back in the world for a quite a consistent period.”