With reports swirling that his Atlanta United tenure might be short-lived, Pity Martinez gave one of his best performances to date for his current club, scoring the match's deciding goal in a 2-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over Saint Louis FC Wednesday night at Fifth Third Stadium.
Josef Martinez added a penalty in second-half stoppage time to seal victory against a USL Championship side that occasionally looked dangerous on set pieces, but not often during the run of play.
Pity Martinez's deft chip of Saint Louis goalkeeper Tomas Gomez in the 52nd minute punctuated Atlanta's most threatening stretch of the match, though they were decidedly on the front foot for most of the encounter.
It came just one match after coach Frank de Boer again lifted him early from an MLS encounter for performance reasons. That prompted reports that Martinez could be on the way out during the MLS secondary transfer window, which De Boer strongly denied on Tuesday.
Emerson Hyndman provided the opening assist in his debut for Atlanta after signing on loan from Bournmouth on July 1.
- 52' - Pity Martinez | WATCH
- 90'+5' - Josef Martinez
- THE BIG PICTURE: The defending MLS Cup champions reached their first-ever U.S. Open Cup semifinal in their third tournament. They also got their first look at what they might've acquired in Hyndman, who was lively throughout, and did well to force a turnover before laying the ball off for Martinez for his classy finish.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: While it's been a frustrating first half of the season for Pity Martinez, he showed his obvious class with his finish that left Gomez literally no chance.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Justin Meram. The Iraqi international won't get on the scoresheet, but it was his energy on the left flank that really got Atlanta going in the second half. He departed in the 84th minute to a well-deserved ovation from the home crowd, not long after he nearly set up Hyndman for a second.
- ATL: Sunday, July 14 at Seattle Sounders (3:55 pm ET | ESPN, TSN)
- STL: Saturday, July 13 vs. Charlotte Independence, USL Championship (7 pm ET)