This week's big debut didn't quite measure up to the one we saw last week.
Andrea Pirlo's distributive master class last Sunday against Orlando City was nowhere to be found, as an unfocused New York City side couldn't deliver a result on the occasion of Frank Lampard's long-awaited arrival.
The former Chelsea star man logged twenty-three minutes off the bench, but the home team simply didn't have the stuff. Not enough of it, anyway.
Who brings "stuff" to this team? Kwadwo Poku and Tommy McNamara. Andrew Jacobson and Miiiiiix. The DP's aren't shabby, either. But Sunday's squad wilted in the heat.
Yep, there's no other way about it-- ninety degrees on an August afternoon, and the Canadian team brought the harder hustle.
It looked grim early. MLS All-Star Laurent Ciman served up Dominic Oduro, who bested a scampering Josh Saunders to put the visitors ahead in the fifth minute.
New York City struggled to get into anything resembling a rhythm, slipping back into their occasional penchant for creating chances exclusively down the left half of the field. Angelino, McNamara, and David Villa did their typical damnedest on and off the ball, but the right flank was dismal: Andoni Iraola and the hapless Ned Grabavoy couldn't open up space like Poku and Mix could last week.
The ball rarely graced the wide-right areas during New York City's attacks. Shrinking an already-narrow field? There's scarcely no greater favor to be done for an opposing defense.
Long story short: the Bronx Blues took 58% of possession and choked on it.
In the thirty-second minute, Impact winger Andres Romero laid it up to number ten Ignacio Piatti, who outwitted Saunders with a chipped finish. Barely a half-hour gone, and the star-studded home team was down a deuce. The halftime whistle came awash with malaise.
Tommy McNamara drew a penalty in the 68th minute, and David Villa beat Evan Bush to pull one back for New York City. It was the NYC captain's thirteenth of the year, and was immediately followed by the long-promised MLS debut of Frank James Lampard.
Replacing Andrew Jacobson -- a galloping menace -- Lampard couldn't assert himself in linking play. He completed just 61.5 percent of his thirteen passes, good for the worst completion rate on the squad. Jacobson led all NYC outfield players at 92.3 percent passes completed, plus he's got teeth.
It got worse in minute eighty-four, as Josh Saunders tumbled down in the box and took Piatti with him. The veteran slotted home the spot-kick to bag his brace and extend the lead to 3-1.
The home team struck back moments later thanks to an inventive passage, as Angelino streaked up the left to link with Villa, who curated a clever chance for hot-footed Tommy McNamara. The second-year man connected for his second goal in as many games.
The equalizer simply wasn't there for New York City in the end, however, as the whistle rang with the scoreline sputtering at 3-2.
It was a costly loss for New York's newest team. They all are now. But this one, following last weekend's rampant win over fellow new boys Orlando City, marks a particularly deflating moment in the race for the Eastern Conference playoffs.
It doesn't let up for the Bronx Blues. They'll return to Harrison for the third and final crack at the sitting-much-prettier Red Bulls on Sunday evening. With two losses to their Hudson River rivals in as many tries, New York City can ill afford to get gored again.