Josef Martinez returns to Atlanta United training

August 14, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez battles Club America defenders Bruno Valdez (from left), Guido Rodriguez, and Antonio Lopez in front of the goal in the Campeones Cup on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, in Atlanta.   Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
August 14, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez battles Club America defenders Bruno Valdez (from left), Guido Rodriguez, and Antonio Lopez in front of the goal in the Campeones Cup on Wednesday, August 14, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Josef Martinez trained with Atlanta United on Wednesday at the team’s facility in Marietta.

It was Martinez's first training session with the team since he sustained an injury in the win against San Jose three games ago at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Martinez leads Atlanta United with 26 goals.

“It’s great to see him out there,” teammate Emerson Hyndman said. “Obviously he’s a big loss to the team with the amount of goals he’s scored for us and just the impact that he brings to our team. It’s great to see him back out.”

Martinez missed the previous two games. Atlanta United failed to win either, losing 4-1 at NYCFC and drawing 1-1 at Montreal.

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.”

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