Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez said Monday that he played last year’s Eastern Conference final against Toronto with a significant tear of his quadriceps and that he’s still recovering “a little bit.”

“I’m doing everything I can to recover,” he said. “I’m a player who really wants to maintain my health. It’s important for me.”

Martinez did participate in Monday’s season-opening training session at the team’s grounds in Marietta.

Martinez played all 90 minutes in the 2-1 loss to Toronto on Oct. 30. He finished with three shots, one on goal. He finished the season with 27 goals in 29 appearances. He has scored 77 goals in three seasons.

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) speaks with members of the media following a training with the team Monday, Jan. 13, 2020, at the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta Training Ground in Marietta.
Photo: Alyssa Pointer/

Even though he’s recovering, Martinez said he was ready for camp to start.

“It’s always hard to get started again, especially after a month-and-a-half of vacation,” he said. “But I was bored in my house. We have to come out with the mentality that it’s a new year and have the same goals we always do.”

Atlanta United will need Martinez to stay healthy. The only other striker on the roster is Hector Villalba. 

Martinez said he wants to improve his finishing because he feels he missed a lot of chances last season. He took 177 shots, third-most in MLS. Carlos Vela led MLS with 34 goals, breaking the single-season mark of 31 Martinez set in 2018, on 160 shots.

Martinez said taking a rest during the season to try to ensure that he’s healthy for the end isn’t an option.

“I don’t want to come out,” he said. “I’ll rest when I’m home. Sometimes.”

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