Atlanta United’s de Boer: I believe in Pity Martinez

(Photo by Karl L. Moore/Atlanta United)

Credit: Karl L. Moore

Credit: Karl L. Moore

Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said after Saturday's 2-1 win against Montreal that he still believes in Pity Martinez, but there is one particular area in which the midfielder needs to improve.

After a solid beginning that included an assist on Justin Meram’s goal, Martinez had several turnovers in the second half that resulted in de Boer choosing to sub him out after 68 minutes.

“Especially around the 60-65 minutes, he was making too many mistakes and was a danger for the team,” de Boer said. “ When it’s a danger for the team, I have to take any player out in that moment.”

De Boer said he thought Martinez had one of his better performances in Wednesday's 3-2 loss at Toronto. De Boer speculated that the short turnaround and travel from that game to Saturday's may have resulted in Martinez being tired.

Martinez finished Saturday’s game with three shots, none on goal, two chances created and a 77.8 passing percentage.

It's been an odd season for Martinez, who arrived with inflated expectations from the media and supporters  because of his success at River Plate in Argentina. In one of his few interviews, Martinez has said he thinks some of those expectations are unfair.

With Atlanta United, Martinez has scored two goals, including a penalty kick at Toronto, and three assists after Saturday’s game. He has turned down numerous requests to be interviewed after games, including Wednesday’s loss at Toronto when his missed penalty on the game’s final kick sealed the loss. Martinez left the locker room before the media arrived Saturday.

But his play is what’s important, not his not wanting to be interviewed.

During one stretch in the second half against Montreal, Martinez failed to run down a pass from Brandon Vazquez, gave away the ball twice, hit a poor corner and then hit a poor cross. A few of  the team’s supporters booed him after he quit running on the pass hit by Vazquez. In the first half, a misplayed back-heel pass from Martinez resulted in a Montreal counterattack.

“He has to know where he has to make those plays,” de Boer said. “Do we have too many men in front of the ball, then you cannot lose the ball. He has to understand that better.”

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