This past Sunday in New York, two former teammates and Serie A legends reunited as opponents in an MLS clash. Orlando City’s captain Kaká and NYCFC’s “Most Interesting Man” Andrea Pirlo put on a show in the Bronx in front of some 32,000 fans, giving birth to a new chapter in their footballing careers
On Sunday, July 26th, fans from across the New York area flocked to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx where a regular season Major League Soccer fixture was taking place. The “House That Ruth Built” was packed with some 32,000 fans to watch…..a soccer match. In a city full of proud baseball fans who know all too well about winning, it was “The Beautiful Game” that was causing all of the commotion.
Andrea Pirlo made his debut for New York City FC against his former teammate Kaká who stars for Orlando City SC in this battle between former Champions League winning teammates. Both of these stars had accomplished almost everything there is to in football, from Champions League glory to Ballon d’Or titles, with a few World Cup trophies mixed in. Now, they find themselves in North America where they look to dominate once again.
Prior to the arrival of Pirlo, the longtime Milan man Kaká had already cemented his place in MLS as an elite player, earning a starting spot on the MLS All-Star team set to take on Tottenham Hotspur later this month. Through fan voting, the 33-year old earned captain status for the match, a role he is very familiar with from his days donning the red and black kit of the Rossoneri. The Brazilian arrived to Orlando on June 30, 2014 as a “Designated Player,” before going out on loan to São Paolo for six months, but it hasn’t taken long for the ex-Real Madrid man to adapt to life in the U.S as he has bagged 9 goals in 20 league matches. Sure, he has lost a step or two, but his technical ability to outsmart the opposition wherever he may be deployed by manager Adrian Heath proves that he still has plenty to offer the fans of this expanding league.
In stepped one of football’s most elegant players in Andrea Pirlo. The beard, the dead ball magic, the ease of playing at an elite level through the age of 35 and so much more. A player who seems to have the pace of play in the palm of his hands, the 36-year old ageless wonder arrives to the Big Apple as an immediate favorite of the city he has always loved to visit. Last week, the former Bianconeri midfielder was showcased to the city at a press conference where media from across the globe gathered to get a glimpse of the World Cup winner’s introduction. After Frank Lampard agreed to join the club last summer and David Villa was made the club’s first ever player, NYCFC’s purchase of Andrea Pirlo makes it clear that they mean business and intend on creating something special in the “Capital of the World.”
In front of thousands of NYCFC supporters chanting his name, Pirlo was subbed into the match early in the second half to a roaring applause from the hometown fans and was greeted by Kaká as he graced the pitch. Every time the Italian received the ball, fans of all ages cheered on the newest big name to come to New York. Watching a player of Pirlo’s caliber in person is entirely different than observing him on television. It’s his maneuvering around the midfield and his every movement that sets up his approach to pick his pass. As a viewer from the stands and as cliche as it may sound, it was clear that his teammates felt his presence immediately. The buildup play improved and operating room on the pitch grew exponentially larger for New York City FC to attack Orlando, leading them to fend off Kaká’s side 5-3.
If you were lucky enough to grab a ticket to this match in New York to witness these two duke it out, you certainly got your money’s worth. Yes, Kaká and Pirlo (and Villa) stole the show on the sunny weekend clash, but that’s not the point here. Those guys are expected to have that sort of impact on the game regardless of where they play. What is truly remarkable is that those who play alongside these once-historic Serie A players are in as much of a shock as those viewing from the bleacher seats. Pirlo’s teammate Shay Facey expressed his feelings playing with the legend: “Playing with him is something I am going to talk about for a long, long time.”
Andrea Pirlo and Ricardo Kaká, not quite finished yet.