August 27, 2019 Atlanta: Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez is ruled offsides on a goal past Minnesota United goalkeeper Vito Mannone in a 2-1 Atlanta United victory to win the U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, August 27, 2019, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Martinez’s injury not as bad as Atlanta United initially feared

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez will likely miss at least one game with a knee injury, according to Atlanta United manager Frank de Boer.

De Boer said Martinez is using crutches and feels a lot of pain in his knee and ankle, but the injuries aren’t as bad as the team initially feared. De Boer said there isn’t ligament damage or anything “broken” in his knee.

“Hopefully, he can return quicker than we expected,” de Boer said. “We are working day to day.”

Martinez, the team’s leading scorer with 26 goals, left Saturday’s game against San Jose in the 79th minute after he collided with a teammate. Martinez appeared to point to his knee. He was able to walk off the field, and returned to action before being subbed off. He was seen leaning against an advertising board and appeared to be in pain. He was carried back to the locker room on a stretcher, which may have been precautionary.

Atlanta United has three games remaining in the regular season. They will next play at NYCFC on Wednesday in a key game.

Round One of the MLS playoffs is scheduled for Oct. 19 and 20. Atlanta United has clinched a home playoff games and is still in contention for a first-round bye into the Eastern Conference semifinals.

De Boer said either Brandon Vazquez or Hector Villalba will likely replace Martinez. Ezequiel Barco returned to training on Monday but de Boer said it’s likely his first minutes will come at Montreal this weekend.

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