Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez gets five from head coach Frank de Boer during a 2-0 victory over St. Louis in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals soccer match on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Kennesaw. Martinez scored Atlanta United’s first goal in the game. Curtis Compton/
Photo: Compton
Photo: Compton

Atlanta United’s de Boer praises Pity Martinez

After performances that resulted in him being subbed out of the past two home games, Pity Martinez played very well on offense and defense in Atlanta United’s 2-0 win against St. Louis in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup.

In addition to the deciding goal with a curling shot in the 52nd minute, Martinez worked hard on defense. Though he wasn’t credited with any tackles, he attempted several and was involved in numerous duels. That hesitation was why he was pulled out of last week’s draw with New York Red Bulls.

“I think he played a really good game,” Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer said. “I was really happy of course for him. He knows he wants to see his level going up. Today he did a good step for that.”

Martinez declined to speak following the game.

Martinez’s goal came after Emerson Hyndman dispossessed a St. Louis defender in the penalty box. Hyndman quickly passed to Martinez, who didn’t hesitate to bury his shot.

“Great goal, great finish,” Hyndman said. “I did the easy bit. He did the hard bit.”

De Boer said the goal might give Martinez a boost of confidence. The former River Plate standout has just two goals and four assists in league play this season.

“Today he responded how you want a player to respond,” de Boer said. “That’s good for him, good for me, good for the team, good for the club and so hopefully he can stay on that level. He has to understand this is what we want to see from him: not just scoring goals but making tackles.

“We expect he will never be an Eric Remedi or Darlington Nagbe. But he can do what he showed today. It makes a difference not only for him but for his teammates.”

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