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Pity Martinez taking on leadership role with Atlanta United

October 24, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez drives against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs on Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
October 24, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez drives against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the MLS playoffs on Thursday, October 24, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Pity Martinez has a deserved reputation for making important plays in important plays.

He helped his previous team, River Plate, win the Copa Libertadores, which resulted in him being named the South American Player of the Year in 2018.

He helped Atlanta United win the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2019, as well as a place in the Eastern Conference finals of the MLS playoffs. He finished with five goals and nine assists.

Now, with no Josef Martinez, who is out for the season, Pity Martinez will be needed again if Atlanta United is to advance in the group stage of the MLS tournament in Orlando. The team’s first game is Saturday against the New York Red Bulls.

“In terms of my role, I don’t consider myself a star in the league,” he said. “I’m just another guy in the league. When I play well, I know I can help the team. “

Based upon his form before COVID-19 stopped the season March 12, Martinez seems ready to play well and help.

He had two assists in the first two league games and was a bright spot in the 3-0 loss to Club America in Mexico City in the Champions League.

Martinez looked quicker than he did at the beginning of the previous season. He also looked more confident than at the beginning of last season, his first with the team and in MLS.

“I think I started the season well with a lot of energy and finished the previous season on a positive note,” he said. “It’s something I’d like to continue now.”

A skilled player, he is trying to become a more communicative player.

He said he has had discussions with manager Frank de Boer and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra about becoming more of a leader.

“I’m really happy with his performance and attitude,” de Boer said.

Martinez said he is trying to be a good example on and off the field. He talks to teammates, those from South America and those from other places, about staying positive.

“It’s important that we have a very united group,” he said. “Making sure we are talking, caring about each other, looking out for each other.  That’s the most important thing, the team. That’s something I’m trying to do ahead of this tournament.”