Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez progressing well in training

Forward Josef Martinez is starting to resemble his former MVP-winning self in the team’s training exercises, manager Gonzalo Pineda said. (Daniel Varnado/for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Forward Josef Martinez is starting to resemble his former MVP-winning self in the team’s training exercises, manager Gonzalo Pineda said. (Daniel Varnado/for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Josef Martinez is starting to resemble his former MVP-winning self in the team’s training exercises, manager Gonzalo Pineda said Thursday.

Pineda said Martinez was firing in shot after shot during a drill in which he could accumulate points with rewards related to his rehab.

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The goal is to get him reintegrated into the team during the two-week international break and have him 90-minutes fit, possibly for the game June 19 against Miami at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Martinez was listed as questionable for Saturday’s game at Nashville.

“He’s very motivated, and he’s accomplishing many things,” Pineda said. “So we’re very excited about that.”

Martinez, who has 91 goals in 113 MLS games and won the league MVP in 2018, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee April 6. It was the same knee that needed an ACL surgery in March 2020 and subsequent surgeries in December of that year to clean out scar tissue and inflammation.

Martinez, who turned 29 years old Thursday, has missed the past six league games and the team’s loss in the U.S. Open Cup at Nashville.

“He's very motivated, and he's accomplishing many things. So we're very excited about that."

- manager Gonzalo Pineda, on Josef Martinez

The Five Stripes struggled on offense, with four goals in four games after Martinez had his knee examined following the 1-0 win at D.C. United on April 2. But the offense is starting to gain some consistency, with eight goals scored in its past three games.

Ronaldo Cisneros, on loan from Chivas, has stepped into Martinez’s boots and scored four goals.

Pineda said that should Martinez return and play well, it won’t affect the team’s decision whether to retain Cisneros when his loan expires July 7.

Pineda said the team was looking for a striker during the January transfer window and came close to an acquisition, but that fell through. Because they want another quality striker, Pineda implied the team will exercise its option on Cisneros’ loan so that he can stay through the end of the season. Cisneros has twice said that he would like to stay with the club.

“We’re very pleased and happy with Ronaldo, not just (his) hit output, but also his personality and his humility inside the group is something that we’re very happy with,” Pineda said.

When Martinez returns, Pineda said he could pair him with Cisneros in a two-striker system, with the fullback playing high up the field and playmakers in the middle.

Pineda said having Martinez participate in “rondos” during training has provided an emotional boost to the team.

“Josef sets a standard for himself very high,” Pineda said. “He’s a guy that wants to succeed in every action. And sometimes the frustrations that he shows are because his standard is very high. And that standard demands more also from the others around Josef. So when players see Josef being upset at missing a chance, or missing a pass, they set the standard also higher.”

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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 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

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 p.m., UniMas