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New York City 'haven't accomplished anything yet,' says Andrea Pirlo

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- New York City FC midfielder Andrea Pirlo says that the team is going through a good moment, but warned, "We still haven't accomplished anything yet."

Pirlo arrived in the middle of NYCFC's inaugural campaign of 2015, and he and the rest of this teammates struggled to 10-17-7 record, good for only eighth place in the Eastern Conference. But with new manager Patrick Vieira on board to start the season, New York heads into the All-Star break in first place in the conference standings, two points ahead of city rivals the New York Red Bulls.

"Vieira has brought a good work ethic and a new plan in place," said Pirlo through a translator. "It's been great. Some guys at the beginning took some time to get used to it. They weren't used to his style, but now it's going well.

"Last year was a little more difficult. It was a new team, new players playing together for the first time. This season we started with a solid base and we just kept improving along the way."

While big stars such as Pirlo, Frank Lampard and MLS leading scorer David Villa have made big contributions this season, some less-heralded players have also made their mark. Jack Harrison has been outstanding since overcoming a preseason pelvic injury, while Tommy McNamara has contributed with some spectacular goals.

"McNamara is a good player that is improving game by game," said Pirlo in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. "I didn't know much about him when I came in last year, but I enjoy watching him play, especially the goals like he scored last week [against the Red Bulls]."

Another unsung hero has been Andoni Iraola. Last year the Spaniard played mostly as an outside back, but he has provided some defensive stability in midfield ever since being slotted in alongside Pirlo.

"Iraola came into the lineup and he's playing next me and it's really helped the team since he's come in," said Pirlo. "He has technique, experience and he can play out of tough positions. He's playing exactly the way Vieira wants him to play in that role."

Pirlo was also impressed by Italy's Euro 2016 campaign, despite being left out of the Azzurrisquad.

"Italy showed very well at this tournament," he said. "They had some very good games throughout the tournament. It was just unfortunate to get eliminated on penalties against Germany, but overall it was a young team that performed very well.

Manager Antonio Conte has since left the Azzurri, with Giampiero Ventura taking over. Pirlo remains optimistic that Italy's success will continue.

"I don't know Ventura personally, but I've played against his teams [when he was at Torino]," he said. "He's always coached his teams very well, and hopefully he can continue the work that Conte has put in place."

Despite seeing his international career come to an end, Pirlo is content with the decision to come to MLS, though there is one improvement he would make.

"I've been enjoying this experience since I arrived," he said. "I enjoy the pace of the league, and it's a great quality for the league to have. Some of the things that I like less are some of the kickoff times of the games. In summer, these early afternoon games are very, very hot. You wouldn't see this at all in Europe. I'd like to see more night games in the summer and earlier games in the spring and fall when it's a little bit colder."

Related Video
WATCH: Pirlo talks to ESPN FC
WATCH: Pirlo talks to ESPN FC
NYCFC's Andrea Pirlo sat down with ESPN FC to talk about his team's positive start to the season.

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