LAMPARD: RESPECT FOR THE MLS
Frank Lampard says the evolution of Major League Soccer in recent years means we cannot take the All-Stars lightly in tonight's game at Phildadelphia's PPL Park.
The midfielder was speaking ahead of tonight's game against the All-Stars, whose squad features both David Beckham and Thierry Henry, as well as US all-time record appearance maker Landon Donovan, who enjoyed a successful stint in the Barclays Premier League with Everton recently
'I think it's evolved a great deal. David Beckham has been a huge influence on the game taking it worldwide and bringing attention, which lifts the levels of players brought in,' Lampard said. 'You can feel the quality going up and the level of the fans' excitement, which helps the game evolve and we've seen it improve a lot in that time.
'The big names have got a lot to give and it's pushed the standards up. Back home we can watch an MLS game, we couldn't do that a couple of years ago. We're now taking notice and it's a very nice thing to come here and play the MLS All-Stars, we have a lot of respect for them and the American national team as well, who we played in the World Cup, and I know are taken very seriously. It shows the development of American football as a whole.'
The midfielder has also been impressed with the hospitality, and support, the team has enjoyed since arriving stateside last weekend.
'We've been welcomed very well here. Every time we have been to the States we couldn't have been looked after any better,' the 34-year-old said.
'A lot of people have worked very hard behind the scenes to take Chelsea worldwide. We travel to the Far East and America and every year we have more support everywhere we go. Thankfully people have taken to us and we have a great following.
'The games are very good for us, the Seattle game was a great first game for us, we are still fighting to get our fitness for the season coming up so it was a good competitive game for us and the Paris St-Germain game was a step up in terms of opposition and again was a test. We're enjoying it and we want to get to stage where by the time we are leaving the States we are in a state to think about starting our season.'
Lampard believes with the injection of youth in the transfer market, the team will have a different feel to it this season, but is as determined as ever to play his way into Roberto Di Matteo's plans.
'Last year we proved to be a great team and a great unit in the second half of the season with what we achieved,' he explained.
'This year maybe we are slightly different because we have more new young players coming in so there might not be the settled togetherness that we had on the pitch at that side because we had been together a long time but there is an excitement about our team as well and that's probably the main difference.
'Everyone is trying to impress, and you never lose that in pre-season, there's not one manager I've met yet who will close the door on any player. We are all playing for our season at this stage trying to show Robbie that we are fit and ready regardless of last year. We have to perform at a high level to stay in the team because of the quality of the squad we have.'