The possibility that Josef Martinez may travel with Atlanta United for Saturday’s game at Chicago will be determined by how well he responds to training Thursday, according to manager Gerardo Martino.
If Martinez responds well, he likely will travel. His availability to be among the 18 players selected as a starter or reserve for the game will be determined by how well he trains Friday and in pregame warmups.
Martinez hasn’t played since the season’s third game after suffering a thigh injury while playing for the Venezuelan national team. The Designated Player and the one last signed by the team, is tied for second on the team with five goals. Martinez did travel to Vancouver for last week’s game, but didn’t make the 18.
Though teammate Greg Garza said that Martinez typically is the first to arrive at the team’s training center in Marietta and the last to leave, Martino said the striker isn’t bugging him to play. That may be good strategy because Martino said he prefers for players to show the want to play by their performances on the field.
Winger Jacob Peterson, out since the fourth game, will not return this week.
With no Peterson and possibly no Martinez, Atlanta United may be slightly depleted for Saturday’s game. Four more Atlanta United players currently are playing with national teams: Miguel Almiron (Paraguay), Kenwyne Jones (Trinidad and Tobago), Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin (both in U.S. Under-17 national team camp).
Almiron and Paraguay are playing Peru in a friendly Thursday. He is scheduled to fly to Chicago on Friday to rejoin Atlanta United. Martino said Almiron’s playing time for Paraguay, how he feels and his own instincts will determine who much he may play against Chicago. Almiron leads Atlanta United with seven goals.
Jones and Trinidad and Tobago played the U.S. on Thursday in a World Cup qualifying game and Jones won’t be back for the game against Chicago. With goalkeeper Brad Guzan playing for the U.S., there is one Atlanta United player on each side. But that’s not why Martino said he won’t root for either team. He said he roots for only two teams: the one he is coaching and Newell’s Old Boys, for which he made almost 500 appearances as a player and later managed.
Jones’ absence means that Brandon Vazquez may travel to Chicago, according to Martino. Vazquez has one goal this season. Jones has scored two goals.
Martino said he has no anxiety about players competing with the national teams and implied it was simply bad luck that Martinez suffered an injury while with Venezuela.
“Players love playing for the national teams,” Martino said. “I would never feel comfortable telling a player he can’t play for their national team.”
Carleton and Goslin, the team’s first two Homegrown signings, are scheduled to return from Argentina on Monday. Martino said they should be eligible to be selected for Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup game against Charleston at Kennesaw State.
The last time they were off with the U.S. Under-17 national team, which was for the CONCACAF Championship in Panama, Martino gave them a week off to recover.
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