Pity Martínez off to brilliant start in second year with Atlanta Utd
After a disappointing debut season with Atlanta United, Martinez is now showing off the tantalising skills that made him the South American player of the year and could take him to stardom in Major League Soccer.
After a disappointing debut season with Atlanta United, Martínez showed off the tantalising skills that made him the South American player of the year and could take him to stardom in Major League Soccer.
Martínez scored two goals and assisted on another Tuesday night to lead Atlanta to a 3-0 victory over Honduran club Motagua, giving United a 4-1 aggregate victory in the opening round of the CONCACAF Champions League.
"This is the version of Pity that you want to see," Martínez said through an interpreter. "It's a Pity who is feeling confident and comfortable. This is the version that all of you guys wanted to see."
Joining a hugely popular team that won the MLS Cup in just its second season, Martinez was expected to fill the attacking midfielder void left after Miguel Almirón's departure to England's Premier League.
Martínez struggled to fit in as he joined a club outside his native country for the first time, clashing with coach Frank de Boer and sulking when he was pulled from the field or left out of the starting line-up in several key matches.
"Last year wasn't my best season." Martínez conceded. "My head wasn't where it needed to be."
"He is fully committed in how he trains, how he wants to be a very important player for the team and also help the young guys," de Boer said. "I'm really pleased with what he's showing."
In the most encouraging sign for United supporters, Martínez with the team's biggest star, high-scoring striker Josef Martínez.
In Tuesday's victory, it was Josef who delivered the give-and-go pass that set up Pity's first goal late in the first half. Then it was Pity's sending a through ball that left Josef all alone against the keeper in the 60th minute. Finally, with the outcome no longer in doubt, Josef was taken down by the keeper just outside the penalty area, allowing Pity to gobble up the loose ball and complete the brace with a shot between two helpless defenders.
"Pity has been fantastic," United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. "His attitude, his willingness to defend, his willingness to close guys down, that goes a long way. It goes a long way not only for himself - it helps him get into the game, I think - but it also goes a long way with the other guys around him on the field."