Pity Martinez's first MLS goal for Atlanta United "a relief," says de Boer

ATLANTA — Like Atlanta United’s search for their top form in 2019, the wait for Pity Martinez to open his scoring account at his new club was longer than Five Stripes fans anticipated, sometimes excruciatingly so.

But when the moment finally came, it proved to be well worth the wait. It was a vintage strike from “El Pity” that most would recognize from the Argentine’s time at River Plate — a first-time finish with his left foot that curled as much as it accelerated into the top right corner of the net. And comparable to his time in Buenos Aires, Pity scored it against his team’s top rivals, and a game-winner to boot.

“I think he was coming close to that and today he showed that. It was a fantastic strike,” Atlanta coach Frank de Boer said after his team’s 1-0 win over Orlando City on Sunday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. “It gives him a boost, that's for sure. I'm very happy for him, but it's also important for the team because he is a player who has to give assists or make goals.”

Martinez said he’s remained calm despite having failed to register a goal or an assist for the Five Stripes in league play since his arrival via a big-money transfer from South American giants River Plate over the winter.

“Zero pressure,” Martinez said through a translator, speaking about how he was feeling emotionally in the midst of his scoring drought. “I'm used to it. I knew the goal was going to come at some point. Luckily it was able to come today and hopefully we can keep this momentum going.”

Martinez’s words don’t exactly match the frustrated figure Atlanta fans have seen in recent weeks. The attacking midfielder has dealt with his fair share of obstacles since his arrival to the league.

Some of those obstacles are sporting, like his adaptation to playing on an artificial surface for the first time on a regular basis, and some are personal. Martinez’s wife and daughter just recently moved to the United State to be with him. Fittingly, his debut MLS goal arrived on Mother’s Day.

“When you have that amount of money … on you, you know there is pressure,” said De Boer. “You know that people expect a lot of you, and he feels that also and he wants to show it, of course. It's a relief, especially for him because we always believed that it would come. Of course he wants it as quick as possible, but you have to work hard for it and he did and now he's getting his reward.”

Martinez, who recently made waves for his views on North American media’s increased access to players, may be happy he won’t be hounded by the same questions that he’s faced over the last couple of months.

“I feel good. I'm happy that the team won, first. But I think the goal was good for my confidence,” said Martinez through a translator. “Today, the fans are going home happy and that's what's important.”