If there is a player that New York City FC can’t lose afford to lose lately, it's probably Frank Lampard. And if there’s a time they can’t afford to lose him, it’s probably now, with playoffs looming just four weeks away.
Lampard, who has made a stunning turnaround to become one of New York City FC’s most important players, had to be subbed out of a match vs. FC Dallas on Saturday night due to an apparent calf injury.
He came out in the 41st minute and returned to the bench at halftime with his left calf wrapped up:
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It’s a worrying sight because Lampard has had a history of calf problems that have kept him from contributing since joining NYCFC last year. In fact, it took 15 weeks for him to make his 2016 debut because of a lingering calf injury, which also limited his minutes last season, too. Some called him the worst Designated Player signing in Major League Soccer because his $6 million price tag looked like wasted money.
But since his return from injury halfway through the season, the 38-year-old has been on a goal-scoring tear, netting 12 goals in 17 appearances, 14 of them starts. He came into Saturday’s match against FC Dallas having scored three goals in his last two games.
NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira was hopeful, telling reporters after the match that Lampard is experienced enough with calf issues to come out of the match before it got worse. But he admitted he didn't yet know how serious the injury was.
It would be a huge loss for NYCFC if Lampard has to spend any amount of time away as the former Chelsea striker is second in goals for NYCFC behind David Villa. Now, just as Lampard's help has the team close to a playoff berth, he could be back on the injury list.
NYCFC settled for a draw on Saturday against FC Dallas, 2-2, with their goals coming from Tommy McNamara and Khiry Shelton.