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NYCFC's Designated Players prove too much for Revs in home defeat

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By themselves, City's Designated Players are intimidating. Together they're like a hydra.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When lineups for Wednesday night's match between the New England Revolution and New York City FC were released, the away side's setup raised an eyebrow or two. Their three Designated Players – David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo – were all starting on Gillette Stadium's newly-minted turf field.

While the final scoreline was only 1-0 in favor of NYCFC, their collective mettle was on display throughout, often pinging just the right pass to keep possession flowing. Most impressively of all, Lampard netted the night's sole tally in the 58th minute when he kneed home Tommy McNamara's cross past a helpless Bobby Shuttleworth.

With the trio boasting extensive experience for the likes of FC Barcelona, Chelsea FC and Juventus, the Revs' answers were few and far between.

Was Lampard's tally luck or skill? When you're as decorated as he is, it usually doesn't matter.

"They were excellent," said Revolution head coach Jay Heaps. "There's not much you can do. I thought as the game went on, we got to them a little bit more. They were really good to start the game. Credit and tip your hat to those guys. They're big-time players."

Villa, Major League Soccer's leading scorer with 12 tallies, nearly struck gold in the 22nd minute when he was allotted ample time to turn and face goal. His right-footed blast from 30 yards out banged the crossbar, leaving the Revs thanking their lucky stars that Villa's strike wasn't an inch lower.

Even though the center back duo of Jose Goncalves and London Woodberry did their best to contain Spain's all-time leading goalscorer, his influential presence seldom wavered. The same held true for Scott Caldwell and Kelyn Rowe when they shielded the backline, as Pirlo and Lampard dictated proceedings in the heart of midfield.

"Those guys are class," said Revolution left back Chris Tierney. "It's the reason that they're world-class players. They're quality. We didn't do a good enough job against them. It's as simple as that, really. I mean, we had one play there where we turned off and they punished us, which is what you expect with players of that caliber."

On the back of four straight wins, the Blues' head coach, Patrick Viera, spoke glowingly about his stars. They offered seven key passes throughout the evening, and altogether proved that elite players can elevate an MLS squad.

MoreRecap of last NYCFC-Revs home game City reacts to Gillette's new turf field

"We are doing well, of course, because of those three players, four players that you mentioned, and a really good period," Viera said. "They are playing really good. They are dictating the tempo of our game and I think the way we want to play suits them really well and, of course, you need element players to perform."

"We are doing well, of course, because of those three players, four players that you mentioned, and a really good period," Viera said. "They are playing really good. They are dictating the tempo of our game and I think the way we want to play suits them really well and, of course, you need element players to perform."

As NYCFC has surged up the Eastern Conference and New England has slid towards the table's cellar, there's no denying that each squad is heading in opposite directions. For the Revs, Villa, Lampard and Pirlo simply proved to be too much.

However, excuses were absent in post-game remarks, with a particular emphasis on turning the page to Saturday's home contest against Columbus Crew SC.

"We may sound like a broken record saying that, you know: it's a lot of quick turnarounds lately," Rowe said. "You can see it somewhat in our legs a little bit, but mentally we just got to be strong."