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BIRTH OF THE COOL: Andrea Pirlo, Jason Kreis talk playoffs, Lampard, and taking NYCFC to the next level

Yes, party! On Thursday afternoon in SoHo, the gaffer and his newest midfielder faced the media for the first time, but questions remain-- will he be ready to take the field this Sunday? And where the hell is Frank?

"Yes, he let me touch his beard. It's real."
"Yes, he let me touch his beard. It's real."
Hudson River Blue

Enjoy this. Enjoy this feeling right now, drenched in promise, awash in downright sexy anticipation.

Enjoy the sincerity of sentiment and the nuclear-level potential energy. Enjoy it before Andrea Pirlo starts appearing in U.S. magazine ads for quartz wristwatches pegged to the atomic clock. Before he gets paraded around the Javits Center for the next Bugatti expo. Before his inevitable role as a fragrance pitch model for Hilfiger or Chanel, because, let's be honest, this is New York. New York monetizes everything. Money doesn't just talk here, it screams like a banshee on the moors.

Don't pretend this city won't monetize Pirlo off the field. His beard alone is brimming with equity. It's only a matter of time before his handlers will begin conversations involving the term "market capitalization."

So, then-- while you still can, enjoy the single strongest message delivered by Andrea Pirlo at the third-floor ballroom of the Trump SoHo yesterday:

"I'm not someone who cares too much about publicity. I'm here to play."

Keep your powder dry, maestro.


The question on all our collective minds Thursday was, of course, whether Pirlo would have a chance to feature in Sunday's long-awaited rematch with Orlando City and Kaka, perhaps the only player in MLS whose international stardom shines as bright as that of New York City's new midfield magus.


Some lucky fans were on hand to meet the man himself. (Photo: Erik Espenberg)

"We're not ready to make a decision on [Pirlo's] debut yet," declared Jason Kreis, who made sure to add that he hopes the star man can play some sort of role on match day.

For his part, Pirlo's prognosis was measured. "I don't know if I will play Sunday. It depends on the rest of the week. We'll see what happens," he remarked through an interpreter.

The New York City brass are in a tough position here-- with Frank Lampard having already missed two games due to injury since officially becoming an MLS player, the fans will be absolutely clamoring for the Italian ace on the occasion that Lampard remains unable to play. Pirlo, however, didn't begin training with the team until Tuesday, having only logged two sessions before Thursday's press event. "Everything is new. Right now, it's about getting in the right physical condition," the playmaker declared.

The question is this: even if Pirlo is match-fit, how much will he be able to contribute to Kreis's system with so little familiarity with his teammates?

The gaffer himself may have tipped his hand on that account.

"He was special in training today," Kreis volunteered, mentioning that he overheard giddy chatter from the rank-and-file as they got their first taste of Pirlo on the practice pitch. "Everyone is appreciative of the talent and quality he brings. He can have a massive impact."

Mercy. That touch is not -- NOT -- typical MLS s**t right there.

It's that other thing.


The potential for a vaunted personage on the level of Pirlo to make an impact off the field is limitless in a place like New York, whether it be in terms of empowering urban communities or as a golden ticket for marketing and public relations. But the man is anything but distracted by it all.

"I feel like playing. I'm just going to do my job," he remarked. "With all the work we are going to put in, we think we can reach the playoffs."

Ah. That P-word is a bit of a sore subject bordering on the explicit for New York City fans. The timing for these discussions is apt. Too apt, really-- NYCFC and Orlando City opened the season against one another. Each team took a point, their fortunes standing on level ground following that March 8th tilt. Today, the Floridians stand three points ahead of New York City in the Eastern Conference's sixth and final playoff spot.

A win for the boys in blue would place both teams right back on level pegging: six wins, nine losses, and six draws. If the home team can manage a win by more than one goal, they'll be ahead of Orlando City on goal difference, sitting all the prettier.

If Pirlo plays, it's gravy. Kreis acknowledged that his proper implementation into the squad, regardless of fitness, will only come with playing time, and that the process isn't going to be quick. It would help, then, if Frank Lampard -- New York City's very own Invisible Man -- could take a break from cavorting with John Terry and making sentimental promises to local Chelsea fans long enough to play his first-ever minutes for New York City.

Jason Kreis was asked about precisely that. His response was, well, frank: "No update yet."

The look on his face as he spoke those words, however? Layers. Layers with this guy:


Ohhhh boy. I guess we ought to get ready for another weekend of Mehdi "Unready" Ballouchy, eh? Sounds like a party.

Speaking of parties:



"You can smile as soon as we've won the cup." (Photo: Hudson River Blue)


  • Kreis on whether his preferred style of play, which is currently predicated on short passing and a domination of possession, will have to change to accommodate Pirlo's skills as a deep playmaker:
"It's always been our goal to play a style that would fit someone like Andrea. This should be a perfect fit."
  • Pirlo on questions about his effectiveness due to age:
"I don't feel that I'm old."
  • Kreis, a former MLS striker, on the difficulty of implementing so many new players into his roster mid-season:
"The player's job is always easier than the coach's. If I could go back in time, I would! This adjustment will take time."
  • Pirlo on whether he spoke to Italian National Team manager Antonio Conte before completing his MLS move, and whether he feels he has a role to play with Italy at next summer's European Championship:
"I spoke to Mr. Conte before I came. We agreed that it was a good move for me. I will make myself available for the national team, but it's his decision."
  • Pirlo on whether he has any reservations about the infamously narrow dimensions of the pitch at Yankee Stadium:
"Fields are more or less the same everywhere. It does not matter. The rules are the same-- there isn't a difference."
  • Ok, then, but what about turf? European imports are known to hate the stuff!
"I've always been used to playing 60 games -- one every three days -- and I've played on artificial turf. There is artificial turf in Europe as well, in some places."
  • Kreis on what to expect from the new star man here and now:
"Andrea's role is to be one of the most important players in our team and help us win and win now. He will be leaned upon."