Josef Martinez sets lofty goals for himself, Atlanta United

Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez makes an attempt on goal during the match against Inter Miami on Sept. 29 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Martinez seems to be feeling better than he did last season and set some lofty goals for himself and Atlanta United on Thursday. (Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

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Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez makes an attempt on goal during the match against Inter Miami on Sept. 29 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Martinez seems to be feeling better than he did last season and set some lofty goals for himself and Atlanta United on Thursday. (Dakota Williams/Atlanta United)

Credit: Dakota Williams/Atlanta United

Josef Martinez seems to be feeling better than he did last season and set some lofty goals for himself and Atlanta United on Thursday.

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Martinez said Atlanta United wants to win its second MLS Cup, its first Supporters’ Shield and its second U.S. Open Cup. Having already scored 102 goals for the Five Stripes, the 28-year-old striker said he is setting a goal of reaching at least 200.

“There’s nothing that we can’t do without that will, that hunger to work,” he said. “That’s what we have right now. I think our goal as a team is to be fighting for those places at the top of the standings, fighting to try and reach the final, and we’re all going to give our best to be able to do that, and hopefully we’re able to accomplish those things.”

To come close to reaching those goals, Martinez said it’s very important that he stays healthy, mentioning that several times during Thursday’s interview session with national media.

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Martinez suffered a torn ACL in his right knee in the first game of the 2020 season at Nashville. The injury forced him to miss the rest of the season and required four surgeries. One procedure was done in March to repair the damage. The remaining procedures were done in December to clean up scar tissue and an infection. Martinez said last season that after the second one he almost considered retiring.

He returned in 2021 and scored 12 goals in 24 appearances.

“I think our goal as a team is to be fighting for those places at the top of the standings, fighting to try and reach the final, and we're all going to give our best to be able to do that, and hopefully we're able to accomplish those things."

- Atlanta United's Josef Martinez

“We all know that last year was a complicated year,” he said. “Myself, but also as a team, we had our ups and downs, and I had some good days and some bad days in terms of my injury. So for me, it’s important to stay healthy.”

Martinez said he didn’t do anything differently this offseason and that he feels OK.

He said this is the first injury-free preseason he’s experienced in more than two years.

“Sometimes that preseason preparation is really important ... for what I’m going to try to do is to get the best of me to the best of my ability,” he said.

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Asked if Atlanta United is closer to returning to playing with style and swagger than it did in 2017 and ‘18, Martinez said he doesn’t know. The team has gone through several managers since and has many new faces. Among the starters, only Martinez and goalkeeper Brad Guzan remain from the team that won the MLS Cup in 2018.

But he said the team is working toward that.

“We understand the expectations and the pressure that’s on us to be able to get back to competing for championships, and I also understand the pressure that’s on me every year,” he said. “But, you know, my goal is always to win every weekend. That’s the goal, and we’re going to work as hard as we can to get there and hopefully we’ll be able to stay 100%, or very close to it, healthy and be able to achieve our goal.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

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, 2 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

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

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

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

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

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

Aug. 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

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