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Vieira defends decision to omit Pirlo

Patrick Vieira defended his decision to leave Italy international Andrea Pirlo out of New York City's squad on Saturday, despite their loss to Philadelphia Union.

Pirlo, 36, was not even on the bench as New York were beaten 2-0 by the Union in MLS, omitted from the matchday squad in Philadelphia.

The defeat - New York's third of the season - left Vieira and Co. without a win since the opening day of the campaign in March.

But Vieira insisted: "It's my decision. I'm just trying to choose the best team to win football matches.

"Regarding the team we're going to play against – on how we can hurt them and how we can defend their strengths."

Pirlo's absence was one of three changes to New York's midfield, following last week's 3-2 loss at Columbus Crew.

Mix Diskerud, Thomas McNamara - both among the substitutes - and Pirlo made way for Federico Bravo, Kwadwo Poku and Mikey Lopez.

"Andrea wasn't here today. He may be involved in the game on Wednesday," Vieira added.

"But to be honest, I was really pleased and happy with the way Mikey, Bravo and Poku played. I was really pleased with the midfield."