Is it good to have a $15 million attacker on the field for your soccer team? To say nothing of another who didn’t even make the bench? Atlanta United would certainly posit that yes, it is indeed good to have multiple $15 million attackers on your roster. One of those, Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez struck twice against Nashville in Mercedes Benz Stadium to provide a 2-0 victory for the Five Stripes.
In a game that was relatively back-and-forth, it was about the big signing making plays in big moments.
Martínez’s first goal came moments after it looked like Nashville would be the team to break the deadlock. A magnificent throughball from central midfielder Dax McCarty to winger Alistair Johnston nearly provided the opportunity for the rookie’s first professional goal, but he couldn’t quite beat Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan to the ball with enough space to get a shot past the US International. One long diagonal from midfielder Eric Remedi to Martínez, and the former South American Player of the Year had space to dribble two Nashville defenders and beat Nashville keeper Joe Willis to put the hosts ahead.
Martínez out a bow on the game late, as well. Once again, Atlanta launched a counter-attack – this time after a Nashville turnover – and a pullback pass from the endline found the Designated Player near the top of the box. He made no mistake, smashing home with his left foot.
Meanwhile, Nashville’s highest-profile signings did not shine on the FieldTurf this evening. Central attacking midfielder Hany Mukhtar and left winger Randall Leal – the two Designated Players – consistently found themselves in solid positions, but unable to make the correct choice or connect the final pass at the crucial moment. Meanwhile, recently-extended defender Walker Zimmerman was one of the culpable defenders on each of Martínez’s goals.
There were bright signs: Nashville took more shots and had a nearly-equivalent passing percentage to the Five Stripes. There were solid individual performances from Johnston, Willis, and others. But for now, Nashville has no choice but to lick its wounds and move on to the next one. Nashville travels to Orlando City SC Wednesday.
- 6′ ATL Yellow card – 11 Brooks Lennon (foul)
- 28′ ATL Yellow card – 4 Anton Walkes (foul)
- 40′ ATL GOAL – 10 Pity Martínez (right foot), assisted by 5 Eric Remedi (long pass)
- 45’+4 – Half time
- HT ATL Substitution – On 12 Miles Robinson, off 6 Fernando Meza (injury)
- 48′ NSH Yellow card – 2 Dan Lovitz (foul)
- 67′ NSH Substitution – On 11 David Accam, off 12 Alistair Johnston
- 70′ ATL Substitution – On 29 Mo Adams, off 20 Emerson Hyndman
- 78′ ATL Yellow card – 21 George Bello (time-wasting)
- 78′ NSH Yellow card – 20 Aníbal Godoy (dissent)
- 79′ ATL Substitution – On 31 Cubo Torres, off 14 Adam Jahn
- 79′ NSH substitutions:
- On 14 Daniel Ríos, off 9 Dominique Badji
- On 7 Abu Danladi, off 10 Hany Mukhtar
- 84′ ATL Substitution – On 18 Jeff Larentowicz, off 5 Eric Remedi
- 85′ NSH Substitution – On 23 Taylor Washington, off 3 Jalil Anibaba
- 87′ ATL GOAL – 10 Pity Martinez (left foot), assisted by 29 Mo Adams