Two weeks ago, Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez had to be stretchered off the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
On Sunday, Martinez scored his 27th goal this season in a 3-1 win against New England and ran around as if the injuries to his right knee and ankle had never happened against San Jose.
After missing the past two games — Atlanta United won neither — Martinez began training with the first-team on Tuesday. But it wasn’t clear if he would start against New England. Manager Frank de Boer said on Friday that it would be up to Martinez. It seems that he already knew.
“Before yesterday, he was making sliding tackles, so I was quite confident that he would be ready for this game, and he showed it,” de Boer said. “The composure he showed when he finished that goal was unbelievable,” de Boer said. “It is good for him, you know, to go into the playoffs totally fit.”
Martinez’s goal was one that has become typical: a run behind the defense onto a pass from Julian Gressel. Martinez waited for goalkeeper Matt Turner to commit before taking his shot.
Atlanta United will face New England when it hosts them in the first round of the playoffs on Oct. 19.
“We know what Josef brings, not just the quality on the field, but as a leader, as a mental presence for all of us,” Gressel said. “He had a good week of training. I’m sure he’s hurting right now, but he’s got a couple weeks to recover, but just important for him to be there.”
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