Atlanta United’s Pineda said many factors behind why Josef Martinez didn’t start

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said he doesn’t know if Josef Martinez’s agent requested to speak with Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra, per a report during the Univision broadcast of Saturday’s 2-1 loss at New England.

The defeat eliminated Atlanta United from being able to make the MLS playoffs for the second time in the past three seasons.

Martinez, a Designated Player who was a sub for the seventh time in the past eight games he’s been eligible, scored Atlanta United’s only goal on a bicycle kick in the 81st minute. Martinez leads the team with nine goals.

Martinez, who led Atlanta United to the MLS Cup in 2018 during which he was named league MVP, has one year remaining on is contract, with an option for the 2024 season. Because of the length remaining on the contract, Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said weeks ago that there is time to discuss with Martinez his future.

“I don’t know if it is true, first,” Pineda said of the report. “And second, it’s not my role to deal with agents or signings or players or renewals or anything like that. So I think again, today, I can only, I mean, if you can imagine my emotions at this moment, we are just thinking what just happened and being out of playoffs. It’s a big, big hit for me, for the entire club. And we will have to do better next time.”

Pineda said he didn’t start Martinez because of what he and the other coaches see during the week. He said there are a combination of factors, including tactics, fitness levels during training, scouting and the culture of the team.

Pineda said he also understands why he was being questioned about the decision not to start Martinez in a must-win game.

“I get why you guys ask these type of questions, but no one asked these questions when we were winning,” he said. “So everybody was talking about how good we were in the last three games. And, and now it seems like it’s irrelevant.

“So at the end of the day, I understand my role, and my job is about winning matches. And when we win, everything is beautiful. When we lose, everything is bad, or my decisions are criticized. And I understand that. And it’s not a criticism to you guys, as well, because I understand your jobs, and I understand my job. And I understand this part of my job, so no problem there.”

Atlanta United won 11 points from its past eight games. Martinez was not eligible for selection for the 4-2 win against Toronto because Pineda suspended him for “conduct detrimental to the team.” after the two got into an argument following the loss at Portland.

Don’t expect Pineda to change.

“I’m not perfect. I’m not a machine that is 100% accuracy,” he said. “I will always reflect on what we could have done better game by game. And I can tell you that in a few days, one, two days, we will come back with a good analysis of this game, and we will digest it as coaching staff, and we will stick to the process we have.”

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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

August 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

August 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

August 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

August 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

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

August 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept 17 Atlanta United 0 Philadelphia 0

Oct. 1 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

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