Martinez has scored 77 goals in 83 MLS games, a historic rate. He won the Golden Boot and was named league MVP in 2018 when Atlanta United won the MLS Cup. His quickness, bravery, athleticism and ability to score with either foot or head has made him the No. 1 item on opponent’s scouting reports.
So, there is no easy fix.
Among the solutions is to sign another striker, de Boer said. The team has at least one roster slot and one international slot. But it’s unknown if the team has the funds to make another acquisition. There are a few MLS free agents who remain unsigned.
“We have to search and not make a hasty decision,” de Boer said. “If he’s ruled out, there’s a good possibility that we are looking at the market for a replacement.”
The second is to rely on Adam Jahn, the only striker remaining on the roster. The team traded Romario Williams last season and Brandon Vazquez was selected in the expansion draft during the offseason. Jahn was acquired from USL-side Phoenix in the offseason.
De Boer praised Jahn’s play against Nashville and his play against Motagua in the Champions League. Jahn scored 17 goals in 31 appearances for Phoenix last season.
“He’s important,” de Boer said. “He knows his quality. I know he can also score goals.”
Jahn is a much different striker than Martinez. Jahn is tall and can play as a hold-up striker. He's not the type of player that can drop into the midfield and play quick 1-2 balls with teammates, which is something that de Boer said Martinez is excellent at doing. That skill works well with Pity Martinez and Ezequiel Barco playing underneath him in the formation. Martinez can drop back, receive the ball, play it to a teammate and then sprint into space to receive the ball and shoot. His goal against Motagua on Tuesday is an example.
The third is to play Pity Martinez and Barco as strikers. De Boer said that works best against centerbacks who prefer not to man-mark.
“Pity and I are use to playing behind Josef, but occasionally we are up there with him,” Barco said. “We are comfortable with that. We will see what coaching staff asks of us. We will do whatever coaching staff asks us to do.”