Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez sustained a torn ACL in his right knee in Saturday’s 2-1 season opening win at Nashville.
The team revealed the diagnosis on Sunday, but didn’t say if the ACL is completely or partially torn.
Martinez needs to undergo surgery perform before it can be determined how much time he will miss. Typically, it can take 4 to 6 months — and possibly up to nine — to make a complete recovery from such an injury. But there are a lot of factors that could stretch the recovery to as long as a possible nine months.
The injury happened when Martinez collided with a Nashville player in the second half.
Martinez tried to continue until signalling to the bench less than a minute after coming back onto the pitch that he needed to be subbed.
Martinez is arguably the greatest striker in MLS history with 77 goals in 84 appearances. He was named league MVP in 2018 when Atlanta United won the MLS Cup.
Last season, in games in which Martinez appeared but didn’t score, Atlanta United went 5-3-1, and it went 1-3-1 when he didn’t appear.
Only one team in MLS was more dependent on one player to score than Atlanta United was on Martinez. Martinez scored 46.5% of the team’s 58 goals. Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 30 out of 58, 51.7%, with the Los Angeles Galaxy was more.
Should Martinez be placed on the season-ending injury list, Atlanta United can replace him on the roster, according to MLS rules. If a player is placed on the season-ending list, the player can’t return and play for the team that season in any competition. Martinez couldn’t be replaced with another DP-level player because MLS rules state that the replacement player in that slot can’t make more than $250,000. But that’s only if Martinez is placed on the list. Atlanta United still has an open roster slot and international slot, president Darren Eales told an Atlanta radio station last week.
Martinez hasn’t before suffered a serious knee injury, according to transfermarktco.uk. The most serious injury he has sustained with Atlanta United was a hamstring injury in 2017.
The only other striker on Atlanta United’s roster is Adam Jahn. While manager Frank de Boer praised Jahn, he also said after Saturday’s game that should Martinez be expected to miss a significant amount of time that he would ask vice president Carlos Bocanegra to try to sign another striker.
Until then, or even if that happens, goalkeeper Brad Guzan said the rest of the players will have to step up.
“Our job is to one be ready and two to perform,” he said.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.