The game in 200 words (or less): Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez started on the bench, deemed by head coach Frank De Boer as an subpar performer in recent weeks, largely due to a perceived lack of defensive work rate. For the 65 minutes that Martinez sat on the bench, Atlanta United sorely lacked the creative spark required to break down D.C. United. Seven minutes after Martinez came on, Atlanta had themselves a penalty kick (it was missed), and the defending MLS Cup champions eventually scored twice in the game’s final minutes to wrap up a victory at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and climb over DCU for second place in the Eastern Conference standings, now just three points back of first-place Philadelphia Union. De Boer won the battle in putting Martinez on the bench, but Martinez appears to have won the (highly important) war of public opinion.
Four moments that mattered
33′ — Guzan denies Arriola one on one — Luciano Acosta slotted a pair of perfect through balls to Paul Arriola in a very short period, but neither resulted in a goal. Arriola deferred with a cross on the first and was denied by Brad Guzan after taking one too many touches before firing his shot. Chances wasted in a game with very few of them for DCU.
72′ — Martinez skies his penalty — Josef Martinez has one of the stranger penalty run-ups, complete with a hop, skip and a jump before striking the ball. The goal, presumably, is to force the goalkeeper to commit one way with the unorthodox movement, and easily slide the ball home the other way. What happens when the ‘keeper doesn’t budge, as Bill Hamid didn’t here? Ah…
89′ — The “other” Martinez wins it late — Darlington Nagbe made a great run, which was rewarded by Julian Gressel, before floated the ball toward the back post, which feels like something that will definitely be lost in all of the talk about narrative revolving around Pity and De Boer.
90’+2 — Martinez to Martinez for the nail in the coffin — How’s that for an impact substitution? Also, how’s that for a freebie do-over following the botched penalty?
Man of the match: Pity Martinez
Goalscorers: G. Martinez (89′), J. Martinez (90’+2)