The Real New York City FC

With Pirlo, Lampard, and Iraola joining, NYCFC is now one of the most star-studded American clubs in history
by Nick Chavez   |   Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Blue City – column on New York City FC (NYCFC) & the NYC area soccer scene.

It’s official. Andrea Pirlo is coming to New York City FC.

America arguably hasn't seen such a star-studded club since the Pele and Beckenbauer’s legendary New York Cosmos of the 1970’s.

The signing of world-renowned footballing genius Andrea Pirlo to New York City FC adds perhaps the crown jewel to an already big-name squad.

In fact, with Pirlo’s addition, the true version of NYCFC will start to emerge.

Alongside undisputed, global greats like Spain’s all-time leading scorer and World Champion David Villa, and the all-time highest scoring midfielder in EPL history and Champion’s League winning Frank Lampard, all 3 DPs are bonafide legends for their respective clubs and countries — which play at the elite level of world football.

You do not become a living legend for AC Milan, Juventus and the Italian National Team like Andrea Pirlo without being a very rare genius of a player. The same can be said for the likes of Villa, who has earned equal prestige with Spain, FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid, and Lampard who is an absolute icon in the halls of Chelsea and the England National Team.

By the end of July, all three of these talismans should be showcasing their talents in New York City with NYCFC.

And while some say Pirlo, who just turned 36 in May, is likely “too old” to positively contribute to NYCFC, it’s important to remember that the former world champion started for a Juventus side that won the 2015 Serie A title, Coppa Italia and played FC Barcelona in the 2015 UEFA Champion’s League Final just this past May. Pirlo is also still starting in competitive matches for the 4-time World Champion Italian National Team.

If MLS is of a significantly lower quality of play and skill than Europe’s elite competitions as most experts agree is still the case, shouldn’t Pirlo still be expected to contribute handsomely after just coming off of playing at such a high level a month and a half ago?

Certainly he may have some fatigue from a long, competitive season, and MLS’s travel requirements, pace and physicality will take some adjusting to. But, the skill set and class that Pirlo brings could be just what this inconsistent NYCFC team needs right now.

This is an NYCFC side that, for most of the season, has had a very difficult time scoring on set pieces and providing incisive scoring chances for Villa and New York City’s talented young forwards like Mullins, Shelton and Poku to take advantage of.

The calm, purposeful possession and world-class technique provided by legendary midfielders like Pirlo and Lampard should provide dead ball and open play distribution of the highest quality to the lethal David Villa, who already has 8 goals on the season, and these other young guns from the Bronx.

And although it’s certainly possible that Pirlo might disappoint on the pitch, he is almost guaranteed to be a big hit when attracting media attention and converting new supporters from the considerable number of soccer fans in New York City that likely still have not yet given MLS and NYCFC a chance.

Pirlo is sure to draw more interest and fans to NYCFC and North American’s top domestic league, and this was one of the main purposes of bringing an MLS club with such ambitious owners to New York City, easily North America’s most important market to conquer for MLS, in the first place.

Some of these fans will remain life-long supporters and continue to grow the league and the game stateside. Star-power will do that, especially in the City that demands the best, and NYCFC is certainly boasting that with the likes of Villa, Lampard, rising American star Mix Diskerud and Andrea Pirlo.

Not to mention the highly-touted 18-year old Spaniard from Manchester’s Elite Development Squad Angelino joining NYCFC, of whom his EDS coach and Arsenal icon Patrick Vieira gushed, “I’ve been working the youth development with (Manchester) City for the last two years. Angelino was the best player I had.”

Bombing down the other side will be 33-year old Athletic Bilbao club legend Andoni Iraola, 7 times capped by the Spanish National Team, who not only provides quality passing ability, but also likes to score a few himself with 33 career goals for the storied Basque club.

Finally, after missing the entire 2014 season due to undergoing a necessary knee surgery, one of MLS’s best center defenders George John may be returning sooner than most think. There’s been no official word on his recovery status or a timetable for his return, but let’s just say we should not underestimate the world-class quality of City Football Group’s sports medicine professionals.

Flanked by these outstanding fullbacks, and potentially teaming up with the speedy and tenacious Manchester City youth center defender Shay Facey, John can complete a backline that, on paper, could be one of the best in MLS. A welcome relief for what has sometimes been a shaky defense throughout NYCFC turbulent first season.

With so many big matches already behind this young expansion side, New York City FC fans certainly have much to look forward to with so much world-class talent finally about to join its ranks.

In what will be the most star-studded North American professional soccer club since the storied New York Cosmos of the 1970’s, City Football Group is finally really showing the ambition that I thought they might when I started writing this column in July of 2013.

And why wouldn’t City Football Group go for it? They are majority owners of the only top-flight professional soccer team in New York City. Only a fool would waste such an investment and opportunity bringing the World’s Game to the World’s City.

Whatever the future holds, NYCFC fans must be emboldened — reinforcements are on the way. 


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This is the longest-running column focused on the only team representing the 5 Boroughs in world football: New York City FC. Long may its supporters continue to make history.