Josef Martinez was a goal-scoring machine last season for Atlanta United, hitting the net 19 times in 20 appearances.
The games he missed were because of injury, so staying healthy is one of his goals this season.
“I’ve never had two months off before,” he said. “It was a long break. All the players are getting back into shape. I want to do it slowly, not rush anything, just take my time getting into shape. After that, get treatment and do everything I can in the offseason.”
Martinez suffered a left quad injury while playing with the Venezuelan national team in March and a foot contusion that he dealt with most of the season.
(NOTE: Jason Longshore and I will be taping a couple of episodes of the podcast Southern Fried Soccer this morning that I will post later today. The first will be looking at the impact of the team selling Carlos Carmona. The second will look at possible replacements. I hope you’ll subscribe and listen.)
Here’s the rest of what Martinez shared in his first interview of Atlanta United’s second season:
Q: How can you top last season, when you scored 19 goals?
A: I’m happy with the 19 goals from last year, but even more happy with how the team played. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to accomplish our goal, but this year we will work even harder and hopefully we can accomplish that this year.
Q: Anything you worked on this season?
A: First of all, I want to stay healthy this season, not suffer from either of the two injuries I suffered last year. Prove again that I can score goals and help the team.
Q: If you are able to stay healthy, do you think you can win the Golden Boot?
A: I don’t know. I’d like to stay healthy. I would have liked to have played in all the games. I’ll keep working and who knows?
Q: Which one of the new players are you most excited to play with this season?
A: We haven’t played a lot yet but I think all the young guys we bought are really talented and are really excited to be here.
Q: Gerardo Martino mentioned earlier experimenting with a three-man back line, which may result in two strikers. What’s the difference for you in playing as a single striker or having someone to play off of? What do you prefer?
A: That’s a decision for Tata. In Torino, we played in a system with three defenders and two forwards. Here, I’ve gotten used to playing as a single striker. But that’s just up to Tata.
Q: You and Hernandez share an agent, right? Did you know him in Venezuela and what kind of player is he?
A: I know him from the U-20 World Cup that he played for Venezuela. That made it to the championship of that game. He also played for Caracas, which is the club I started with, too.
He’s a young player. He’s talented, and I want to welcome him to the team, too.
Q: You’ve been the subject of transfer rumors in the past. How does that affect a player mentally?
A: That’s not something I worry about. It doesn’t affect me. That’s for the coach and president to think about. I just focus on doing my job and to the guys who are leaving, we always wish them good luck. As a player, you have to be happy wherever you are. If you are happy, you can do things well on the field.