SBD/July 25, 2014/Franchises

New NYC FC Designated Player Frank Lampard Calls MLS A "Real Option" For Top Players

Lampard said the perception that MLS is a cakewalk league is dated
MLS expansion club NYC FC on Thursday introduced former EPL club Chelsea MF Frank Lampard, who becomes the club's "fourth player and second of three to fill the Designated Player slot," according to Stefan Bondy of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS. Lampard: "We’re here to play serious football, serious soccer and try to win something. ... I’ve seen what MLS has done, the improvements over the years, the quality of players. That perception (that MLS is a cakewalk league) is dated. I think that has changed now" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 7/25). In N.Y., Andrew Das notes although the 36-year-old Lampard still had "options to remain in Europe ... he decided before leaving with England’s team for the World Cup in Brazil that his next home would be" in N.Y. Lampard: "The quality of the league has improved. I think we’ve seen that -- the quality of the players coming in to play here, the quality of the homegrown players, as you’ve seen in the U.S. team at the World Cup. Top players want to play in good-quality leagues, and MLS is a real option now" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/25).

TOO LATE? ESPN FC's Graham Parker wrote while nobody is doubting that Lampard will "be one of the best players in MLS when he starts playing in the league in 2015, there's something strangely deflating about seeing him show up now, for this project, at this stage of the league's development and this stage of his career." While all that "makes sense for NYCFC for all sorts of marketing and technical reasons right now, Lampard's signing feels, if not disappointing, at least anticlimactic." However, Parker wrote, "I'm not sure I buy the idea that it reinforces the perception of MLS as a retirement home." Nonetheless, it is "basically hard to imagine a scenario in which Lampard truly establishes any sense of history with NYCFC" (ESPNFC.com, 7/24).

THE BEAS KNEES: U.S. men's national team D DaMarcus Beasley on Thursday signed with the Dynamo, and in Houston, Jose de Jesus Ortiz writes it didn't take Beasley long to "see how much MLS and the sport grew in America" since he was last in the league a decade ago. Beasley: "This wasn't here when I was in MLS 10 years ago, from the stadiums to the media to the fans. Houston is pretty much averaging 20,000 a game, and that was unheard of back in 2000. It's grown leaps and bounds. I think it can only get bigger, and I'm looking forward to being a part of that. ... Now every team almost has state-of-the-art facilities, whether that's in Houston or Kansas City. We got to train in Kansas City, and they have one as well. That just shows the leaps and bounds that MLS has grown since I've been in the league" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 7/25).
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