Roy Hodgson's side played out a 2-2 draw with their fellow World Cup participants at Sun Life Stadium in Florida but the match was marred by a clash between Sterling and Ecuador captain Antonio Valencia.
Tempers flared inside the final 10 minutes after Sterling lunged into a reckless tackle on Valencia and the Manchester United winger reacted angrily, grabbing the Liverpool youngster's neck.
Both players received their marching orders as a result, and Lampard was surprised by the referee's decision.
"It's a bit of a shame especially in a friendly game like that. I think there was no real need really," said Lampard, who skippered England in the absence of Steven Gerrard.
"It's a bit disappointing for Raheem really because he's come on and he's trying to do the right thing, track back and try and make a tackle and that's what happened."
England will go head-to-head with Honduras in Florida - without suspended Sterling - before flying out to Brazil, where they will come up against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica in Group D.