Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez suffers torn ACL in MLS 2020 season opener

Atlanta United announced on Sunday that star striker Josef Martinez suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during Saturday’s 2-1 win at Nashville SC as part of MLS opening weekend. Martinez came off in the 69th minute after dueling for the ball and planting awkwardly with his right leg. He went straight down and looked to be in serious pain and ultimately needed to carried off the field after initially trying to stay in the game. 

The club announced that he will undergo surgery at a day yet to be determined and then will begin rehabilitation. 

It’s a massive blow for Atlanta that ultimately downgrades its status as MLS Cup contenders to a team due to a lack of depth in attack. Martinez has been the best striker in the league over the last three seasons. His first season in MLS in 2017 saw him score 20 goals in 22 games, and he followed that up with 35 goals in 39 games in 2018 where he won MVP. He then had 33 goals in 39 games last season and has more goals over the last three seasons than any player in MLS. Martinez scored in the 2018 MLS Cup final as helped bring a pro sports championship to Atlanta.

Atlanta United is one of four MLS teams left standing in the CONCACAF Champions League, but without Martinez it’s hard to see them getting past Club Amerca in a two-leg affair. 

Atlanta United president Darren Eales took to Twitter shortly after the injury was announced:

“I know all the club’s and 17’s thoughts are with Josef,” Eales wrote. “He is such an amazing and focused athlete that we know he will come back stronger and better than ever. We wish him all the very best in his recovery.”

The only other striker on the squad is 29-year-old Adam Jahn who two MLS goals since 2017 and has never scored more than five goals in an MLS season.

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