Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez (left) plays with a baseball as he talks with Atlanta Braves center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. during a team practice ahead of Game 1 of best-of-five National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals at SunTrust Park on Wednesday, October 2, 2019. (Hyosub Shin /

Josef Martinez will decide if he starts for Atlanta United on Sunday

Josef Martinez will decide on Friday if he will start for Atlanta United on Sunday against New England, according to manager Frank de Boer.

Martinez, who leads Atlanta United with 26 goals, has trained with the team this week. He missed the past two games because of knee and ankle injuries sustained against San Jose.  Brandon Vazquez started at striker in those two games.

“He looked well,” de Boer said of Martinez on Friday. “For us, the players are the most important thing, that he’s totally fit, so we don’t want to risk anything. But he’s mature enough to make his decision.”

Teammate Jeff Larentowicz said that Martinez is the toughest player he’s seen when asked to predict Martinez’s decision.

De Boer said that Ezequiel Barco will start on Sunday and that he thinks the midfielder can go for at least 60 minutes. Barco returned from an injury to play 27 minutes in last week’s 1-1 draw at Montreal. He had missed the previous five games.

It seems unlikely that captain Michael Parkhurst will start. Parkhurst is retiring at season’s end. He started at Montreal.

“It’s not our last home game, so we have time,” de Boer said.

Other than the injured Brek Shea, the only player who didn’t train with Atlanta United’s first team on Friday was Andrew Carleton, who has an injured right leg and will not play with Atlanta United 2 in its upcoming game against Pittsburgh.

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