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  • By Jason Schott – Reporter / Assignment Editor – Photo ofNYC FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo by Mike Lawrence

    Italian soccer star Andrea Pirlo made his debut in style, helping New York City Football Club to a 5-3 victory over Orlando City on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

    Pirlo came on in the 57th minute and was a key part of an NYC FC offense that poured in four second half goals. 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. Poke 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 said of his MLS debut, “It was very emotional for me when I got onto the pitch. The heat didn’t play a factor and of course since we won, it felt even better.”

    Pirlo said of his performance, “I hope that I will continue to improve my game. I have only been training for three days at this point so I also need to feel more comfortable with my teammates and I am sure we will play well together.”

    The crowd of 32,041 gave Pirlo an enthusiastic standing ovation when he entered the game. Pirlo said of the fans, “It was great because I could tell that they wanted me to play. When I got on the pitch, it was absolutely amazing to hear all of the applause. It was very emotional to hear and I really did appreciate it.”

    On international players coming to MLS, Pirlo said, “I would recommend for anyone to come here, it is a fantastic experience to be a part of.”

    Pirlo said of the differences he has noticed between here and playing in Italy, “It is a new thing for me to see so many people in the locker room and to be on the pitch and hear all of the music. It is different but I will definitely get used to it very quickly.”

    New York City FC Head Coach Jason Kreis said of first impression of Andrea Pirlo, “He’s a special, special player. The guy sees passes that most of us don’t. He can really open up the game. What I really saw was a team opening up because they believed he could find them. He made a big difference. It was his first game after training with the team for four days so we can hope for even better going forward.”

    NYC FC midfielder Thomas McNamara said of playing with Pirlo, “You could really see his range of passing and it opens up the field. When he gets on the ball you just know that he’s going to keep it. He’s always going to be able to make the forward pass so it allows our team to get into different spaces and still expect to receive the ball. It really opens it all up for us.”

    NYC FC midfielder Mix Diskerud said of his first impression of Andrea Pirlo, “He has a really great calmness around him and you see it when he’s on the ball, as well. He really knows how to move the ball and he really sees everything.”

    NYC FC defender Chris Wingert said of having Pirlo with this team, “It’s incredible. He’s an all-time great for a reason and everybody looks up to him. He’s really just a special player. I thought he changed the game tonight as soon as he came in, really had an incredible impact right from the start. It’s just nice having him and another great player to add to the roster can only help.”

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