To call NYCFC’s 5-3 win over Orlando City SC special would be an understatement. Magical and a glimpse into the possible future would be more accurate.
Andrea Pirlo’s New York City FC debut was just as advertised. From his smooth demeanor off the field to his smooth play on it, along with his precision perfect passes, Pirlo’s debut sparked one of the biggest eruptions in the Bronx since David Villa’s first goal in Yankee Stadium against New England back in early March.
Prior to his debut in the 57th minute, Yankee Stadium filled with chants of “We want Pirlo” from the 25th minute on – even as Villa scored the Blues’ first goal of the match in the 45th minute.
“[Andrea Pirlo] is a special, special player,” head coach Jason Kreis said during his postgame presser, “obviously, a guy who sees passes that most of us don’t, who can really open up the game. From what I saw right away is our team opening up and really using every ounce of space out there because they felt like he could find them.”
Pirlo is a welcome addition to a club that had trouble controlling the ball and setting up attacks in the prior two matches, let alone most of the season. He helped set up David Villa’s second goal of the match when he spun around one defender to get the ball to Kwadwo Poku, helping him get one of his three assists on the day.
Villa’s brace on the season pushed his total to 12 goals on the season, third most in the league. Only Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco (13) and Columbus’ Kei Kamara (15) have scored more.
“He just got here on Tuesday and look at what he did in half-an-hour,” Villa said afterwards. “His half-an-hour was fantastic.”
Pirlo’s debut helped spark a four-goal second half for the Blues, their highest goal total in a half this season.
“We will hope for even better going forward,” Kreis added.
For a team that’s been frantically looking for some sort of successful consistency, Pirlo’s calm demeanor is exactly what this team needed going into the second half of the season. His calm control of the ball and incredible vision should open up passing lanes and allow NYCFC to use all of the space on the pitch, allowing NYCFC to efficiently use the attacking third much quicker.
On the other side, this is a team that has struggled against speedy attackers recently and Sunday was no exception. Rookie Cyle Larin slashed through the NYC defensive backline for a hat trick, bringing Orlando City within one goal at the 85th minute. Pirlo, while great with ball control and passing, won’t necessarily bring a lot to the defensive side of things for the Blues.
Regardless, Pirlo is a great addition to an NYCFC side that should just about be able to score at will with Pirlo, literally, orchestrating the attack. Whether or not the Blues can make the playoffs will depend on whether or not they can hit the all of the right notes.