All is not well for defending MLS Cup champion Atlanta United FC as they travel to Seattle for Sunday's nationally televised match against the Sounders.
Midfielder Pity Martinez, the reigning South American player of the year who was acquired for a league-record transfer fee in the offseason, expressed his displeasure with first-year coach Frank de Boer during an interview Thursday with Fox Sports Radio in Argentina.
Specifically, Martinez, 26, was unhappy with de Boer's comments about him making "dangerous" passes in a 2-1 victory at Montreal two weeks ago and not working hard enough to win one-on-one battles in a 3-3 tie with the New York Red Bulls last Sunday. Martinez said he wished de Boer would've addressed his concerns with him behind closed doors instead of through the media.
"Frank has his opinion and he's going to say what he wants to say," Martinez told reporters Friday. "It just frustrated me what he said, (but) as I said before, I'm always focused on soccer."
De Boer seemed happier with Martinez after he scored a goal Wednesday in a 2-0 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory against Saint Louis FC. De Boer said Martinez, who has two goals and four assists in 18 MLS matches, would start for the Five Stripes on Sunday.
"When you are new in a country, new culture, you have to adapt, the pressure on him to be one of the most important players of the league, it's not coming in one day, it takes time," de Boer said. "My role is to get the best out of the team and to get the best results. When I think (a) player is not doing at this moment what we want, then I take him out."
Atlanta (9-7-3, 30 points) and Seattle (9-5-5, 32 points) entered the weekend in third place in their respective conferences.
The Sounders will have a full complement of players for the first time since May with the return of forward Raul Ruidiaz and midfielders Nicolas Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan from international duty.
"It's very important when we have our full team complete," said Lodeiro, who represented Uruguay in Copa America. "Now in the second part of the year, it's the most important because now we need key points home and away. We are 100 percent and having our whole team is very important because we need all of them."
--Field Level Media