MARIETTA, Ga. — The status of Josef Martínez, who strained an adductor in training Monday, is uncertain for Atlanta United’s meeting against New York City FC this Sunday. Martínez missed Atlanta’s 2-0 U.S. Open Cup semifinal win at Orlando City Tuesday.
Martínez trained with Atlanta’s first team Friday. Manager Frank de Boer told reporters he will make a decision on the forward’s availability after training Saturday.
“Day-to-day basis,” de Boer told reporters at the Children’s Healthcare Training Ground. “We have to wait. His reaction [in training] was still not 100%, like 80, 85%. Tomorrow we will see again what he can do, and then we’re going to make a choice after training.”
Martínez has played 21 Major League Soccer games for Atlanta this season, scoring 18 goals and adding two assists. The Venezuela international currently sits four goals back of Los Angeles Football Club’s Carlos Vela in the race for the golden boot.
Martínez injured his adductor while practicing a corner routine. He jumped for a header and felt a “pop” when he landed, according to de Boer. Martínez did not travel with the team to Orlando.
“We know Josef, he is not happy, that’s for sure,” de Boer said after the win Tuesday. “It’s nice to see. He’s eager to come back as quick as possible. We have to sometimes push him a little bit back because he’s really eager to step in the next game. We’re going to make a good decision with him and of course with the medical staff to step in at the right moment.”
With Josef Martínez out, de Boer started Ezequiel Barco and Gonzalo “Pity” Martínez as the forwards in a 3-5-2 formation against Orlando. Losing MLS’ record holder for goals in a single season means there is more impetus on the rest of the team to make runs behind opposing back lines.
“We cannot have that everybody is coming into the ball,” de Boer said Friday. “That’s very easy to defend. We are really focusing always on that: one [forward] goes deep, the other goes high. That combination you always have to have. Of course, the difference with Josef is, he is always in the right moment [making his run]. That’s quality.
“Like [AC Milan legend Filippo] Inzaghi, who in my day maybe couldn’t keep the ball up four, five times in a row, but he was always on time. Like eight times he was offside, but four times he was not offside and was one-against-one against the goalkeeper. That’s a quality, and Josef has that quality to always make that run behind at the right moment.”
Atlanta and NYCFC will kick off at Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday around 4 p.m.