CHESTER, Pa. –Andrea Pirlo did not make the trip to Philadelphia for New York City FC’s game against the Union on Saturday and it wasn’t because he was injured.
It wasn’t because NYCFC head coach Patrick Vieira decided to rest him during a busy stretch that includes three games in one week, either.
The reason for Pirlo’s absence?
“I was just choosing the best team to try to win football matches, regarding the team we were going to play against and how we can hurt them and how we can defend," Vieira said.
Considering Pirlo’s stature and salary, the move was probably surprising to a lot of people – including Union head coach Jim Curtin, who said he prepared for the Italian midfielder all week.
But Vieira stood by his lineup and formation decisions, saying he was “very pleased” with his midfielders in NYCFC’s 2-0 loss and insisting that his team “dominated” the match.
“I think if you analyze the game, you can see that we controlled the game,” Vieira said. “I think we were by far the better team today."
The NYCFC boss is correct in that the visitors controlled possession by a wide margin and completed more than 80 percent of their passes. But NYCFC weren’t especially dangerous in front of the net, finishing with only one shot on target.
That’s a point that Vieira concedes – but not one that will cause him to hit the panic button.
“I personally believe we dominated the game,” Vieira said. “I personally believe we created enough chances to score goals. But we weren’t ruthless enough in front of the goal to put the ball in the back of the net.
“And we gave two goals away,” he added. “Philly didn’t really create them. We gave it to them.”
Next up is a midweek match against Didier Drogba and the high-flying Montreal Impact at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday (7 pm ET, RDS and MLS LIVE in USA). And the pressure will be on as NYCFC seek their first home win of the season in what will be their fifth match in the Bronx this season.
After two straight road losses, Vieira still maintains his team should be heading home with more points.
“We’re frustrated, disappointed and there’s a lot of anger,” Vieira said, “because I believe we should go back to New York with something with the way we played.”