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Preview: What Does Josef Martinez’s Injury Mean for Atlanta United?

Since his arrival at Atlanta United in 2017, Josef Martinez has provided nothing but goals. For much of the last few years, the striker has been in the company of Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the league’s goalscoring charts. However, in hitting the heights, the 27-year-old has piqued the interests of many clubs throughout Europe’s top divisions. That said, in the short term, Atlanta will be without their talisman through a season-ending injury. So, let’s look ahead to the Five Stripes’ upcoming season and Martinez’s future.

Leading by Example in the MLS’ Period of Growth

Despite starting the new season off with a narrow one-goal win over Nashville SC on the opening day of the MLS, the six-year-old team would lose their star player, Josef Martinez, to injury in the second half. Unfortunately, the setback saw the 2017-18 top scorer tear his ACL, resulting in Atlanta placing him on the season-ended injury list, as per the official MLS website. Although the Five Stripes followed their opening-day victory with a win over FC Cincinnati, they went on to fall to tenth in the Eastern Conference, suffering six defeats by September 13th.

In turn, it’s clear that Atlanta has struggled in the absence of Martinez’s goals. Sadly, going forward, it’s unlikely that things will get any easier for the team owned by Arthur Banks. Furthermore, regarding the MLS as a spectacle, losing the 27-year-old could significantly impact the league’s popularity. As per SB Nation, Major League Soccer won’t be the same without the Venezuelan, who was on track to be the league’s greatest ever player.

Crucially, Martinez’s impact on the American soccer scene has been pivotal to the industry’s growth. As well as being a licensed league in EA Sports’ FIFA franchises, the MLS has also become a mainstream market at sports betting sites within numerous states, including New Jersey. Since legalizing the sector, NJ online sports betting has reached new heights, with several bonus-offering operators covering a wide array of different sports, including the MLS. For example, at Bet MGM, local players can bet on Atlanta United’s upcoming fixtures, with odds relating to goals and both teams to score.

Linked with a Move to the English Premier League

On the face of it, this period of absence may see Martinez reassess his plans, as long-term injuries can hinder future performances. In recent years, the clinical striker has been linked with a handful of different clubs throughout Europe, including Everton and Newcastle in the English Premier League.

As stated above, there is currently no reason to believe that Martinez wishes to leave Atlanta, but opportunities to test himself in Europe’s top division may be sparse following his recent ACL injury. In many ways, the setback may have both short and long-term implications for the Five Stripes.

While the 2020-21 season looks set to be a challenging one for Atlanta, it’s possible that the fans may have seen the last of Martinez. If Miguel Almiron, who previously played for the Five Stripes, is a leading example, then making a move from the MLS to the Premier League isn’t unheard of. Moreover, the opportunity to link-up with the Paraguayan again may appeal to the 27-year-old striker, should the chance arise.

A Testing Season for Both Atlanta and the MLS Looks to be on the Horizon

Ultimately, it’s easy to forget that the loss of Martinez also negatively impacts soccer as a whole. While, from a competitive standpoint, Atlanta may struggle to achieve their on-field objectives, the league’s global spectators will be disappointed that the 27-year-old won’t be adding to his goal tally in 2020-21. In turn, this could impact viewership figures and, consequently, the MLS’ promising development.