Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda says he remains unsure about Josef Martinez’s future at the club.
Martinez is an icon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, scoring a club-record 111 goals in 157 appearances across all competitions to help the Five Stripes lift MLS Cup, US Open Cup, and Campeones Cup titles.
However, the Venezuelan striker’s relationship with the club has become strained as the years have gone by, culminating in a one-match suspension last month due to ‘conduct detrimental to the team’.
Martinez scored an incredible bicycle kick in Atlanta United’s 2-1 defeat to the New England Revolution on Saturday – a result that knocks them out of contention for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Prior to that match, TUDN’s Michele Giannone reported that Martínez’s agent has requested a meeting with Atlanta United’s front office to discuss his future, with The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas adding that the two parties are ‘not aligned’.
Naturally, Pineda was questioned about Martinez’s future in his post-match press conference.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” said Pineda. “There are many things in place with me, with many players, with the roster, with everything. The only thing I can tell you at this moment is I’m very disappointed at not making the playoffs.”
One point of contention among Atlanta United fans has been Pineda’s refusal to start Martinez for many matches in the second half of the season. Despite often being left on the bench behind Ronaldo Cisneros, Martinez has still managed nine goals in 25 MLS appearances (12 starts) this season, totaling just 1,411 minutes.
Martinez’s strong form in front of goal has only served to increase the pressure on Pineda and his decision-making.
“My decision, again,” Pineda responded when asked why he hasn’t been starting Martinez. “We coaches, we live and die by our decisions. We have, as you can imagine, way more information throughout the week, the season, on players. And we make decisions based on that, based on what we see day-by-day in training sessions. At times I can make great decisions, at times I cannot. So, we’re talking about how good of performances we have had in the last three games and no one asked those questions. But today we lose and I can imagine people at this moment ask those questions.”
With their season effectively over, Atlanta United will close out 2022 at home to NYCFC on Sunday.
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