Atlanta United suspends Josef Martinez for one week

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

A verbal altercation with manager and other incidents led to the decision

Josef Martinez was suspended by Atlanta United for one week for conduct detrimental to the team, according to a statement from the club Wednesday.

Martinez is expected to rejoin the team Sept. 12. He can’t participate in any training sessions until then.

The suspension stemmed from a verbal altercation between Martinez and manager Gonzalo Pineda after last week’s loss at Portland. However, the altercation wasn’t the only reason for the suspension, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. The suspension stemmed from numerous incidents.

Because of the suspension, Martinez will not be available for selection for Saturday’s game against Toronto at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Atlanta United (8-12-9) is in 11th place in the East. It is five points behind the seventh-place team for the final playoff spot, with five games remaining.

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Martinez leads the team in goals with eight after scoring in last week’s 2-1 loss at Portland. He’s also the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, with 110 goals in all competitions. However, Martinez has fallen out of favor as a starter under Pineda. Martinez has come off the bench in the past four games and five of the past six games. He has scored a goal in two of the past three games, both coming off the bench. He scored in the 88th minute in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to Portland and in the 62nd minute in a 3-2 win over D.C. United on Aug. 28.

Martinez has had a complicated relationship with most of Atlanta United’s managers. He was forced to train by himself by manager Gabriel Heinze, who soon was fired because of the team’s poor results. Earlier this season, Martinez called out teammates and members of the front office after the team was beaten 3-0 by Austin.

Martinez has always been emotional, especially after losses. Previous managers let Martinez’s teammates handle those situations, according to another person with knowledge of the situation.

In his six seasons with Atlanta United, Martinez has appeared in 130 games, including 11 starts, and has a franchise-best 97 goals. Martinez helped the club win the MLS Cup in 2018 and U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup in 2019. He was named MLS MVP in 2018.

Martinez’s suspension likely means that Ronaldo Cisneros, on loan from Chivas, will continue to start at striker. He ranks second on the team with seven goals.

Martinez has one year remaining on his contract, with the team holding an option for the 2024 season. Martinez has said he doesn’t yet know if this will be his last year with the club. Martinez repeatedly has said that he loves Atlanta and wants to stay with the club for as long as it wants him.

The suspension is another bit of negative news for the team this week following Tuesday’s report of Miles Robinson’s arrest for an alleged misdemeanor.

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

Aug. 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

Aug. 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Aug. 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

Aug. 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Aug. 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE