Atlanta United will host New England on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the final game of the regular season. If Atlanta United defeats the Revs, it will finish in second place in the Eastern Conference. The playoffs are scheduled to begin Oct. 19. Atlanta United will host its first-round game. If it wins, it will also get to host its semifinal game.
Brandon Vazquez started at striker in Martinez’s absence. In 153 minutes, Vazquez took seven shots, putting three on goal. He didn’t score in either game. Hector Villalba played striker in the final 14 minutes at Montreal, putting his only shot on goal. He also had a goal called back for offside.
Asked at least twice what Martinez’s injury was, Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer would only say that it involved Martinez’s right knee and ankle. No specific diagnoses were shared.
Before his injury, Martinez was competing with LAFC’s Carlos Vela and L.A. Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the race for the Golden Boot. Martinez won the award last year with a single-season MLS record 31 goals. Vela has since pulled away with two goals in the past two games to tie the record. LAFC will host Colorado on Sunday.
“Everyone is excited to have him back,” Vazquez said. “One more game, he might not catch up to Vela, but he’s had a great season. Josef back is always good for the team.”
Reminded that Atlanta United defeated New England 7-0 two seasons ago, Vazquez said of Martinez: “Nothing’s impossible. I’ll leave that one open.”