How will Atlanta United replace Martinez?

Atlanta United 2 forward Jackson Conway (36) dribbles the ball during the first half of a USL match against Memphis 901 FC Saturday, July 18, 2020, at Fifth-Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw. (Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Combined ShapeCaption
Atlanta United 2 forward Jackson Conway (36) dribbles the ball during the first half of a USL match against Memphis 901 FC Saturday, July 18, 2020, at Fifth-Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw. (Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

With Josef Martinez out 6-8 weeks following arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday, manager Gonzalo Pineda didn’t want to tip off anyone as to whether there will be a striker in Sunday’s MLS game at Charlotte, or who might play that role.

Pineda has three options, which he said is good: Jackson Conway, a Homegrown player; Dom Dwyer, an MLS vet; and Ronaldo Cisneros, who joined the team this week on loan from Chivas Guadalajara in Mexico.

“We know what each one of them can provide to the team,” Pineda said. “They’re fairly different in terms of characteristics.”

Conway replaced Martinez on Saturday in the team’s 1-0 win at D.C. United and caused the host’s centerbacks some trouble with his size and willingness to be physical. Though he whiffed on a shot only a few yards from goal that could have given Atlanta United a 1-0 lead, that he was in that position is a good sign. He has played 28 minutes this season for the first team, and he scored three goals in one game for Atlanta United 2.

Teammate Jake Mulraney said Conway is the best finisher on the team. Conway said earlier this season that he needs to improve his hold-up play.

Dwyer, 31, signed with the team as a free agent. He has scored 82 goals, including one for Atlanta United in the opening game, in 212 appearances. Dwyer is more of a goal-poacher and pest for defenders.

Cisneros is thought to be more like Martinez when he’s healthy: a player who likes to run off the shoulder of defenders to reach balls hit into space behind defenders.

“I think we definitely have good players that can score goals and help us,” centerback Miles Robinson said.

Pineda wouldn’t commit to saying that whichever player is selected to start against Charlotte will get a run of games to try to develop chemistry with teammates.

“I always tell the players that we have to go game by game,” he said. “We have big hopes, big goals, big things that we want to achieve with the team, but we have to go game by game.”

And there also is the possibility that Pineda elects to use no striker. Several times last season Pineda rolled out a formation that included two false nines, which are wingers who can play as strikers. It worked well the first time it was used in a victory against Orlando. It didn’t work as well in subsequent times.

“It all depends on how I see the team,” he said. “I have to see the reaction, the behaviors, how they react toward certain tactics, and if they play good with that, maybe I’ll repeat (it), maybe not. So I have to see.”

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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 at Charlotte, 1:30 p.m., ABC, ESPN Deportes

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., Peachtree TV

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

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

June 19 vs Miami, 4 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

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

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

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

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

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

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

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


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