The hosts eventually triumphed 5-3 in a game that saw David Villa score twice.
Villa gave New York City the lead on the stroke of half-time after what could best be described as a tedious first half.
However, after the break, the game came to life with another seven goals scored, including a hat-trick for Orlando’s Cyle Larin, and numerous other chances for both sides.
There was little action of note for much of the first half with Orlando by far the better side but unable to create any clear cut openings. New York City, meanwhile, struggled to get going at all, with Villa an isolated figure up front.
Both sides would probably have taken 0-0 at the break but it wasn’t to be as full-back Angelino played a high ball forward to Villa. His first touch was immaculate to bring the ball down and with his second, he fired the ball perfectly into the bottom corner, much to the delight of the lively home crowd.
The hosts still seemed buoyed by the goal as they emerged for the second half and were quickly on the front foot.
Orlando refused to back down though and levelled – briefly – in the 50th minute as Larin held off Jefferson Mena before finding the net from 10 yards out.
Within three minutes, however, Javier Calle had helped New York City to retake the lead, tapping in at the far post from Thomas McNamara’s cut back.
That proved the trigger for Pirlo to be introduced and the Italian thrilled the home crowd by quickly showing off his passing range to get his side moving forward time and again.
Just as a party atmosphere threatened to take over in the Bronx, Orlando hit back. Darwin Ceren played in Carlos Rivas down the left, and the latter pulled the ball back first time for Larin to power home from six yards to cap an incisive move.
Again, the visitors weren’t level for long. Just five minutes elapsed before Villa curled in his second of the match from the edge of the area after cutting back onto right foot. Pirlo had started the move with a smart pass to Kwadwo Poku, who in turn picked out Villa.
They then doubled their lead shortly afterwards as Poku again picked up the ball in the middle of the pitch before playing in McNamara, who took a touch before rifling home left-footed.
Orlando hit back again though as Kaka fed Larin on the edge of the box, allowing the striker to control the ball before arrowing it into the top corner for his hat-trick.
Villa missed a chance for his hat-trick almost straight from the restart but it stayed at 4-3 going into the last minute of stoppage time when Orlando earned a free-kick 20 yards out.
Kaka stepped up and rapped a fine effort off the inside of the post and out. New York City broke, Villa played in Poku who put the ball on a plate for substitute Mix Diskerud to roll it into an empty net and seal a memorable win.