More examinations of Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez’s right knee haven’t found any issues, so he is day-to-day and hasn’t been ruled out of Saturday’s important MLS game at Philadelphia.
Manager Gonzalo Pineda said Martinez is training by himself, and they will talk tomorrow, with the trainers, and decide if he will be available for selection.
“This one doesn’t worry me, to be honest. I think he’s gonna be fine,” Pineda said.
Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in the first league game of the 2020 season. He underwent surgery in March that year and missed the remaining games. He underwent surgery again in December to clean out scar tissue and because of an infection.
He returned and has played in 17 league games this season. He leads the team with nine goals.
Martinez could be seen limping in the final minutes of last week’s win against D.C. United. He was examined after the game and was cleared. He was examined again Monday and was cleared.
He trained with the team Tuesday but left the session early after experiencing discomfort in the knee.
If Martinez is ruled out of Saturday’s game Pineda said he will stay in Atlanta to undergo more treatment. The team hosts Miami on Wednesday.
Pineda said for the remainder of the season there will be some consideration of whether they are playing on grass or turf when deciding Martinez’s availability. Mercedes-Benz Stadium features turf. Pineda has said that turf, combined with travel, may be reasons that Martinez’s knee isn’t as well as it was. Atlanta United has four home games remaining at home on turf and five road games on grass.
“So we just have to do the best for Josef and also listen to Josef,” Pineda said. “I love to listen to the players, how they feel, how they react to certain things. And we will make the decision. I mean, we will try to go together, we just have to make the best decision for him. But again, I know Josef, he wants to play every minute for this club. It’s just more me I have to manage his minutes a little bit here and there as much as I can.”
Should Martinez not be available Saturday, Pineda said he can adjust the tactics. He said Erick Torres can cover at striker, or he can go back to the “false nine” formation that features Ezequiel Barco, Luiz Araujo and Marcelino Moreno that resulted in a 3-0 win against Orlando.
“That’s a good problem to have right, plenty of options,” Pineda said. “And we will see what’s the best for the team.
Pineda said fullback Ronald Hernandez may be available for selection against Philadelphia. He is recovering well from a layoff after a positive COVID-19 test while in South America. Midfielder Franco Ibarra will not play after his long layoff because of a muscular injury.
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Atlanta United’s 2021 MLS schedule
April 17 Atlanta United 0, Orlando 0
April 24 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 1
May 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1
May 9 Atlanta United 1, Inter Miami 1,
May 15 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0
May 23 Atlanta United 1, Seattle 1
May 29 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2
June 20 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 2
June 23 NYCFC 1, Atlanta United 0
June 27 Atlanta United 0, New York Red Bulls 0
July 3 Chicago 3, Atlanta United 0
July 8 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2
July 17 New England 1, Atlanta United 0
July 21 Atlanta United 1, Cincinnati 1
July 24 Columbus 1, Atlanta United 0
July 30 Orlando 3, Atlanta United 2
Aug. 4 Atlanta United 2, Montreal 2
Aug. 7 Atlanta United 3, Columbus 2
Aug. 15 Atlanta United 1, LAFC 0
Aug. 18 Atlanta United 1, Toronto
Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, D.C. United 1
Aug. 28 Nashville 2, Atlanta United 0
Sept. 10 Atlanta United 3, Orlando 0
Sept. 15 Atlanta United 4, Cincinnati 0
Sept. 18 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2
Sept. 25 at Philadelphia,3:30 p.m., Univision
Sept. 29 vs. Inter Miami, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 2 at Montreal, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 16 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 20 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 27 vs. Inter Miami, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Oct. 30 vs. Toronto, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Nov. 3 at New York Red Bulls, TBD, BSSO/BSSE
Nov. 7 at Cincinnati, 3:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
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