Atlanta United not worried about Martinez


Josef Martinez was not happy.

The Atlanta United striker was subbed out in the 77th minute of Sunday’s game at the New York Red Bulls. He had failed to record a shot. He pulled down his socks, ripped the pink tape off his calves and left it strewn on the field like confetti before he slowly walked to the sideline. He shook his head slightly before passing Gerardo Martino and his assistants and taking a seat on the bench.

The Five Stripes would go on to draw with New York, the fifth time this season that the team’s high-scoring offense was shut out, but the second time in three games.

Atlanta United will need Martinez at his bull’s-eye best when it hosts Toronto in the regular-season finale on Sunday because much is at stake. If it wins, and NYCFC draws or loses to Columbus, and Chicago draws or loses at Houston, Atlanta United will secure second place in the Eastern Conference. The top two teams earn a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

As Martino goes, so goes Atlanta United.

When he plays but doesn’t score, Atlanta United is 2-4-3.

When he plays and does score, Atlanta United is 9-0-1.

Martinez left the locker room before the media were given access after the game. Manager Gerardo Martino and his teammates seemed neither concerned that he hasn’t scored in his past two starts nor that he was obviously perturbed as he left the field.

“I mean, he’s scored 18 goals in 19 games,” midfielder Julian Gressel said. “That’s not bad. I think he’s in a good spot, like we are as a team. So, we should all play with the team. Obviously, he gets frustrated when he doesn’t score which is a good thing for a striker. I’m sure Tito would’ve liked to score as well today. We just have to keep working hard, keep working as a team and keep improving and we’ll be alright.”

Martinez and the rest of the team could benefit from the return of attacking midfielder Miguel Almiron, who has missed the past four games because of a hamstring injury. Almiron posted on social media Monday that he “is back.”

Almiron’s speed and vision could open defenses and give space for Martinez, who has scored one goal in his past 337 minutes, according to Matthew Doyle of MLSSoccer.com. It’s his longest drought this season. Martinez is still scoring 1.13 goals per 90 minutes, which would set a league record.

Martino simply answered “no” when asked if he was worried about his striker’s form. Martino pointed out that Martinez had a few good chances against the Red Bulls.

“It's not necessarily anything the Red Bulls did to defend him, but we just missed some chances today that we usually convert,” Martino said.

With no Almiron, defenses are giving Martinez very little room to run onto through balls in the past few games, but he has still found space. He freed himself and just missed a headed shot in the second half against the Red Bulls.

“There’s three central defenders, you know?” teammate Jeff Larentowicz said. “He’s one guy up front and I’m sure that’s what they’re trying to do — get around him. At the same time, there’s a couple times he had an opportunity in the box and reflexed it. It’s close, but that’s the life of a striker, a bounce here, a bounce there, you get a goal.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Sports

College GameDay signs: Best signs from Wisconsin-Michigan
College GameDay signs: Best signs from Wisconsin-Michigan

For Week 12 of the college football season, College GameDay is at Madison, Wis. for the matchup between No. 5 Wisconsin and No. 24 Michigan. Game time for Wisconsin-Michigan is set for 12 p.m. ET. The game is being televised on FOX. For the Badgers, if they win out and finish the season at 13-0 with a Big Ten title added to...
Miami leads for rising 4-star OG Dontae Lucas after back-to-back visits
Miami leads for rising 4-star OG Dontae Lucas after back-to-back visits

MIAMI — Dontae Lucas knows what it’s like to be part of a program returning to glory. As the starting left guard for Miami High School, Lucas has Miami on its way to the region championship for the first time since 2000 after a 27-21 win against Miami Southridge High School on Friday at Southridge Park. Then on Saturdays...
Seahawks S Kam Chancellor reportedly done for season
Seahawks S Kam Chancellor reportedly done for season

Seattle Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor hasn’t yet been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. However, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, Chancellor likely won’t be playing this Sunday for the Seahawks or any of the remaining Sundays in 2017. According to the Garafolo...
LOOK: Clemson reveals special uniform combo for game vs. The Citadel
LOOK: Clemson reveals special uniform combo for game vs. The Citadel

TCU drops thrilling hype video ahead of showdown with Texas Tech
TCU drops thrilling hype video ahead of showdown with Texas Tech

If the last two years are a sign of what’s to come, we’re in for a thriller on Saturday in Lubbock. Each of the previous two meetings between TCU and Texas Tech have come down to the wire. In 2015, A fourth down pitch towards the end zone bounced off the outstretched hand of Josh Doctson, only to miraculously fall into Aaron...
More Stories