Stephen Glass assumed the role as interim manager of Atlanta United having seen plenty of star men Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco, since he watched nearly every Atlanta game while managing the club's USL side.
Even so, the promotion compelled Glass to dig into some previous game tape — particularly that of Martinez' five-year tenure with River Plate that culminated in a 2018 Copa Libertadores crown, in order to figure out how to get the most out of his marquee playmaker.
"I’ve seen them at the environment that made people bring them to this club, because they’re fantastic players," Glass said Thursday during a conference call. "I think they can be used slightly different to get more out of them. And they’re willing to do it because they know we are actually trying to put them in the best situations.
"I personally have done a little bit more homework than I would’ve normally done."
Atlanta fans eager to see an improved product from the one that went scoreless at the MLS is Back Tournament will get a first hint at what Glass took away from that film study on Saturday night, when their MLS season resumes against Nashville SC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in the US and DAZN in Canada).
For Martinez, who earned South American Player of the Year honors partially as a result of that 2018 Libertadores run, it may not be as much about where he plays as the team's overall approach.
"[Glass] likes to play the style that the majority of the players on the team prefer as well, which is an attacking style, being on the front foot," Martinez said, through an interpreter. "I’m a player who is comfortable playing in any position. I’ve been playing on the left wing, but I have no problem playing on the left or right wing and just doing whatever is necessary to help the team."
He admitted that differed from Frank de Boer, who mutually agreed with the team to part ways following the MLS is Back Tournament failure. But Martinez also disputed the narrative that he and de Boer had a difficult relationship during their year-and-a-half together.
"It wasn’t complex," Martinez said. "Everyone has their own opinions on different things. As a coach, I always respected him. As players we have to respect the coach, so that wasn’t an issue. But the way that he saw the style of play disagreed with kind of the views of the team at times. But the players don’t make those decisions. The club makes those decisions for what is best for the future of the club. And the players have to respect the coach. So now we’re hoping to develop the positive relationship with Glass."
And he suggested the team shouldn't lean on friction with with the past coach to justify their recent poor performances. Like the rest of the club, Martinez went without a goal or assist at the tournament restart. His two assists this season came in a 2-1 home win over FC Cincinnati back on March 7.
"People talk a lot about players’ relationships with coaches, but really, players have to train and players have to play, and they have to show up on the field," Martinez said. "Of course having a good relationship with your coach helps in that, and it’s important. But for me the most thing is we as players, we have to show up and play."