(Andrea Pirlo – Photo by Mike Lawrence)
New York City Football Club Midfielder Andrea Pirlo had possibly his best game with the team on Thursday night, helping them to a 3-1 win over D.C. United.
After a tough first half in which the DC defense shut down Pirlo and the NYC offense, he turned it up in the second half.
In the 80th minute, NYC FC got the kind of play they dreamed about when they brought in Pitlo from Italy. Pirlo was near the center circle. and he sent a long pass in to David Villa at the top of the box. Villa slipped between two DC defenders and got it by DC goalie Bill Hamid to make it 2-1 NYC. That turned out to be the game-winning goal.
On his pass to David Villa for the goal, Pirlo said, “I needed to get forgiven for the bad pass that lead to the first goal. Villa was really good at picking up on it and it ended up really well.”
Pirlo said of his amazing passing skills, “I was lucky enough to be born that way. Of course there was a lot of training and practice, but deep down it is a God given gift, and I do thank my parents who gave it to me.”
On the adjustments NYC made to come back from a 1-0 deficit at halftime, Pirlo said, “During the week we worked really hard. We changed our style and the way of thinking, because we could not continue to work like that. There was of course the mistake of the goal in the first half, but the team continued to do better and we played well in the second half.”
Pirlo made his debut on July 26th against Orlando City, which NYC won 5-3, and he helped set up goals in very similar fashion.
He entered against Orlando City in the 57th minute and was a key part of an NYC FC offense that poured in four second half goals that day. Pirlo make a key pass on David Villa’s goal in the 67th minute that gave NYC FC a 3-2 lead.
In the 71st minute, Pirlo eluded a defender at midfield and got it Kwadwo Poku just past the center circle. Poku dribbled it a few yards on the right side and fed it to Thomas McNamara coming down the left side and McNamara unleashed a patented shot with his left foot that rose past the outstretched hand of Orlando City goalie Tally Hall to make it 4-2.
Pirlo had a tough time in his next game, August 1st against Montreal, as he was not given any room to operate. As a result, the NYC offense was not that potent and they fell one goal short, losing to Montreal 3-2.
The next game, this past Sunday against the Red Bulls saw Pirlo get roughed up at midfield, unable to get anything going. NYC’s other two European imports, David Villa and Frank Lampard were bottled up in this game as well, with the only strong chance from one of their big three coming from Lampard in the opening minutes. The Red Bulls shut out NYC and won 2-0.
It is remarkable that Pirlo was able to play this one against DC on Thursday and play so well. The MLS is a more physical league than Serie A in Italy, and this game showed he has gotten used to it and can certainly propel this team in their playoff push.
On the quality of the team’s performance, Pirlo said, “We were convinced that we were able to do a lot better. Not just in terms of our ranking in the standing but to further the morale in the team. We’ve been working really hard and thank God that the fruits were there for us to eat tonight.”
New York City FC Midfielder Tommy McNamara, who got their first goal of the night said of Pirlo, “You could see the ability Andrea has. He plays passes that other people frankly don’t see. On our team and the opposing team. He’s extremely dangerous when he gets the time and the space and he showed his ability today.”
Pirlo said of Kwadwo Poku, who had a goal and an assist on Thursday night, “He played a fantastic game. He had done so before against Orlando and the other teams. He is a player I did not know before. He has incredible physical strength and he is growing so well and so much. He works very hard and he will continue to do so and grow.”