Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez called up by Venezuela

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez, right, and Seattle Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo, center, watch the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez, right, and Seattle Sounders midfielder Joao Paulo, center, watch the ball during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Sunday, May 23, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Credit: Ted S. Warren

Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez was called up by Venezuela’s national team for coming friendlies against Bolivia on June 3 and Uruguay on June 8.

Martinez has 51 career appearances for Venezuela, scoring 11 goals with three assists.

Martinez sustained a torn ACL in his right knee in last season’s first game. He has seven appearances this season, with two goals scored. He recently has started to play with the same aggressiveness that made him one of the best strikers in MLS history from 2017-19, including when he was named MVP in 2018.

In 2017, he suffered a quad injury playing for Venezuela’s national team.

Martinez is the second Atlanta United player to be selected by a national team in the past few weeks. Ezequiel Barco was selected by Argentina’s U23 national team for games. Atlanta United hasn’t said whether Barco will be released by the club. He came off the bench in the second half of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Nashville after missing the previous four games with an injury.

Atlanta United won’t play again until it hosts Philadelphia on June 20 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Not having Barco and Martinez, two of the team’s three Designated Players, during the next two weeks could negatively affect the team’s ability to work on its offense during training sessions. It needs the work. The two goals scored against Nashville were only the second time in 11 games that it has scored more than one goal in a game.