October 30, 2019 Atlanta - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) takes a shot as Toronto FC defender Laurent Ciman (26) defends in the second half during the Eastern Conference Final soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. Toronto FC won 2-1 over the Atlanta United. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Bocanegra: Josef Martinez in good spirits after knee surgery

Josef Martinez is in good spirits and happy that the surgery to repair the torn ACL in his right knee went well, Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said Thursday.

Bocanegra said that he spoke to Martinez before and after the surgery, which was completed the week of March 16 at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center by Drs. Freddie Fu and Volker Musahl. Fu is considered a leading expert on knee reconstruction. Musahl is a team physician with U.S. Soccer and the University of Pittsburgh.

UPMC, with Fu and Musahl, were selected as part of a collaborative decision made by Martinez, the team and the team’s medical provider, Piedmont Healthcare, according to Bocanegra.

Doctors at Piedmont reached out to the doctors at UPMC to discuss Martinez. Fu has pioneered a surgery that he told a Pittsburgh-based magazine is better suited for athletes. Fu, who has performed knee surgeries on numerous athletes, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, described it as re-joining Part A to Part A and Part B to Part B. Martinez sustained the injury in the season-opening game at Nashville.

“We wanted Josef to feel comfortable and feel like he was getting the best,” Bocanegra said. “Biggest part was Josef was really on board with this. Our doctors at Piedmont were very much involved in the process.”

After a consultation, Fu and Musahl were selected to perform the surgery.

Bocanegra said the surgery is one “silver lining” to the ongoing MLS suspension forced by COVID-19. Martinez was able to undergo surgery less than a week after the stoppage was announced March 12. 

“It could have been a case where potentially Josef didn’t get his surgery until late summer or something along those lines,” Bocanegra said.

Bocanegra said there isn’t a timeline on Martinez’s return. Bocanegra said it’s a long-term injury and rehab, currently being handled by specialists from Piedmont.

“He’s wrapped his head around that,” Bocanegra said of Martinez.

After a few months, Bocanegra said he thinks the repaired knee will be re-imaged to see how it is healing. As the process continues there will be constant evaluations and updates.

Bocanegra said a decision hasn’t been made yet whether to move Martinez to the season-ending injury reserve or supplemental or reserve rosters to open a slot to add another striker.

“The main thing is that he’s back, fully healed up and 100 percent so that we can have our ideal Josef back,” Bocanegra said.

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