It was nothing but good news regarding forward Josef Martinez, who recently returned to the field after months out due to a quad injury. During his first game back against the Charleston Battery, Josef played the entire time and scored a goal leading to a win against Charleston. He returned to Bobby Dodd Stadium on Sunday June 18 to a sold out crowd chanting his name. Martinez wasn’t in the starting line-up, but scored the third and final winning goal against Columbus Crew. He said he hopes the club can keep up the winning streak.
“I’m happy with scoring the goal today I was very emotional especially because before I came on I heard all the fans applauding me and chanting my name, but I’m happy to get the goal tonight and happy with all the work my team is doing,” Martinez said.
The Venezuelan striker was out for a total of 11 matches while doing rehab on his thigh injury. Watching his teammates play while he completed rehab was one of the hardest experiences of his fútbol career said Martinez.
“It was difficult before our first game in Seattle I had never been through anything like that before where I was watching tv and my teammates were playing without me,” Martinez explained. “It was hard and I even told it to the players in the talk before that game.”
Atlanta United played well without him, but there was a sense of loss during many of those away games where the team seemingly couldn’t pull it together without Martinez’s speed. Head Coach Tata Martino said having one of his designated players healed and back on the field is a welcome return.
“He was able to play a full game on Wednesday and he scored on Wednesday and he was able to come tonight and play and score. We’re a much better team when we have our goal scorer,” Martino said.
Martinez was in rare form at the press conference after Sunday’s match speaking to reporters and grinning from ear to ear. Now that he is officially back, with the help of the athletic trainer and coaching staff, he just wants to use the energy to win.
“It’s difficult being out because you want to be out there with your teammates you want to be out there helping…,” Martinez said. “The most important thing is that we won tonight and I want to keep this momentum going.”