Manero

Il Metronome

By: Alfonso Duro

Major League Soccer is not joking around. After years of financial restrains, they have let go in a big way. It does feel a bit like the glory days are back. If the NASL brought the best of the best —Pelé, Cruyff and Beckenbauer— to play in the United States, the MLS was not going to sit back and be second best in the history books. On its 19th year, the league has made its biggest splash yet, bringing players of the caliber of David Villa, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, while targeting Mexican sensations Gio Dos Santos and Chicharito Hernández

Yet, amongst all the big names, one man stands out: Andrea Pirlo. The hippest and most fashionable Italian footballer doesn’t seem to age, and while Berlusconi gave him away to Juventus in 2011 thinking his career was pretty much over, Il Metronome turned in four magic years at La Vecchia Signora, winning all the Scudetti he could manage (4), one Coppa and making it to the Champions League final against Barcelona last June.

Pirlo will now pull the strings, control the pace and handle the tempo of the game at New York City FC, the up-and-coming Red Bulls town rival. Alongside Frank Lampard, he’s been charged with the mission of turning Manchester City’s US franchise into the American version of the powerhouse the Baby Blues have become in England in the last six years.

But the story is not that simple, of course

Why Are Some Against Pirlo Signing for the NYCFC? Who cares? I mean, I understand the concern over a 36 year old midfielder’s impact in a very physical league like the North American, but that is selling Andrea Pirlo’s skills quite short.

For those arguing that he won’t run like he used to when he was younger, here’s a splendid counterargument: Pirlo has never needed to run to be a superstar. He’s a man who can excel and outplay anybody on a pitch thanks to his expert body positioning, his brilliant passing skills, and his precision when it comes to long--range crosses or shots on goal.

In almost 700 professional games, Pirlo has dished out 206 assists, scored 72 goals, and won all the trophies known to man. He could be 54 and still be a contender for MVP in the MLS

Why Are We Excited About Pirlo Joining the NYCFC? Because Andrea Pirlo is (with Kaká) simply the best and classiest player to have grazcd the MLS in nearly two decades.

But before the Valderrama or Marco Antonio Etcheverry fans try to impale me with pitchforks, let me pay my respects to both South American glories: you guys were great. But let’s be honest: Kaká, Riquelme, Zidane… these players are at a different level, and Pirlo, like them, can single-handedly change the outcome of a game without being the strongest or the fastest, or even the best goal scorer. Il Metronome is pure magic, and should he decide to play in the MLS for three years or for three minutes, we should just stand in awe and admire him.

If Beckham was a great push for the league and helped the American youth embrace the sport, then Pirlo will certainly make the young bucks kicking a ball all over the land not just to play the game, but to do so in a more beautiful and stylized way. And that’s good enough for a legacy.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.