Josef Martinez leaves Atlanta United training with knee discomfort

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) attempts a shot against D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (24) during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)
Caption
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) attempts a shot against D.C. United goalkeeper Bill Hamid (24) during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez left Tuesday’s training session early because of an issue with his right knee, and manager Gonzalo Pineda said he is going to ask the team’s doctors if the striker needs an MRI.

Martinez could be seen limping during the final minutes of Saturday’s 3-2 win against D.C. United. He was examined by team doctors after the game and again Monday. Pineda said he was cleared each time.

Martinez came out with his teammates for the beginning of Tuesday’s session. He jogged around the field with them and participated in some light drills before leaving the pitch. Pineda said the medical staff was examining him again.

“After all the things that he struggled with in his knee, I mean, it’s normal, having some little pains here and there,” Pineda said. “I hope today’s is just part of that.”

Martinez has undergone two surgeries on his knee in the past 18 months. The first surgery happened in March 2020 to repair a torn ACL sustained in last season’s MLS opener at Nashville. Martinez missed the remainder of the season. The second surgery happened in December to repair scar tissue and treat an infection.

Pineda said that when Martinez returned from competing with Venezuela in its World Cup qualifying matches in early September he reported some soreness in the knee.

Caption
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) controls the ball against D.C. United players during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) controls the ball against D.C. United players during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)
Caption
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) controls the ball against D.C. United players during the second half Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Jason Getz/For the AJC)

Credit: Jason Getz

Credit: Jason Getz

Martinez was well enough to play in two of Atlanta United’s next three games. He scored three goals in those games to increase his career total in all of the team’s competitions to 99. He has 86 goals in 101 appearances in regular-season games, the best mark in league history for that span of appearances.

Pineda said the soreness is normal after playing two games on the turf of Mercedes-Benz Stadium and that he hopes he is OK.

Atlanta United is scheduled to play at Philadelphia on Saturday in an important game with playoff implications in the Eastern Conference.

If Martinez is unavailable, or Pineda chooses to rest him, he said the team has shown that it can play without a striker. It defeated Orlando 3-0 using Ezequiel Barco and Luiz Araujo as strikers in a “false nine” formation. Other options are Erick Torres or Jackson Conway.

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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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