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Atlanta United’s Pity Martínez out for Columbus match with ‘minor’ hamstring injury

Feb 28, 2019; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Pity Martinez (10) dribbles the ball against CS Herediano during the first half at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. (Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports)

MARIETTA, Ga. — Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez, Atlanta United’s blockbuster January signing, is out for Saturday’s match in Columbus with a “minor” hamstring injury, coach Frank de Boer told reporters after training Thursday. Martínez picked up the injury while playing with the Argentina national team in a friendly against Venezuela on March 22.

Martínez was seen jogging on his own at the Children’s Healthcare Training Ground, but he did not participate in team drills. Atlanta officially lists Martínez as day-to-day to return to training. The Five Stripes hope to have him back for the matchup at the New England Revolution on Saturday, April 13.

“He had a minor injury, a little bit of tightness in his hamstring, but he was already running today on the field,” de Boer said. “So it’s already looking very positive for him that … he can be ready for the next game.”

Elsewhere on the injury report, de Boer said he expects Franco Escobar to be on the bench against Columbus. It would be Escobar’s first appearance in Atlanta’s 18 this season. The defender broke his clavicle on the first day of preseason camp.

Florentin Pogba and Kevin Kratz are day-to-day with hamstring and calf injuries, respectively. George Bello (groin) and Chris Goslin (knee) are listed as week-to-week. Captain Michael Parkhurst missed training Wednesday with an illness, but he returned Thursday and is expected to play against Columbus.

Atlanta signed Martínez, who can play anywhere across the front line or as an attacking midfielder, from River Plate for a reported $14 million. Last season, Martínez led the Buenos Aires club to the Copa Libertadores title, defeating city rival Boca Juniors in a controversial two-legged final. For his efforts, Martínez claimed the honor of South American Footballer of the Year.

Martínez’s transition to the Five Stripes has not been easy. With a short offseason — River Plate played in the Club World Cup in December, and the Five Stripes’ Concacaf Champions League run began in February — he has yet to achieve full fitness this season. El Pity does not have a goal or assist through seven competitive matches. 

Some fans in Atlanta are running short on patience with their newest big-money signing. Martínez joined the team as a de facto replacement for the beloved Miguel Almirón, who departed in January on a record move to Newcastle United of the English Premier League. So far, Martínez has not lived up to those high expectations.

“He has to adapt and everything: a new culture, new circumstances,” de Boer said following his team’s 1-1 home draw against the Philadelphia Union on March 17.

After a week off in conjunction with the FIFA international window, Atlanta travels to meet the Crew this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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