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Atlanta Martinez wants to shine again after a knee injury

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ATLANTA (AP) – Josef Martinez easily hovered between Spanish and English, showing the agility he once showed on his feet with a soccer ball.

It is clear that over the past year he has expanded his language skills. He was justifiably proud of his work.

“Hey, nobody says anything about my English.” he joked to reporters during a Zoom call on Friday.

Martinez hopes that there will be no need for a translation when he plays for his first game in more than a year.

One of the most dynamic strikers in the history of the Football League, the face of a shocking rise to the top of the Atlanta United Championship, Martinez missed almost the entire part of last season, recovering from a serious knee injury.

Being with Martinez, the league went through a long pause until the game finally started in July. But United were not the same team without their best player struggling to score goals, sacking coach Frank de Boer and failing to finish in a careless, uninspired group that missed the play-offs for the first time in the history of the franchise.

Martinez wants to revive ATL. The league opens on April 10 in rival Orlando.

“It was a very difficult year for everyone, especially with what happened,” said the 27-year-old Venezuelan. “I try to be, I do not know it is 100%, but I hope to be able to train in the first game. I am well. I’m feeling good “:

Martinez tore up AL’s right-hand side at the opening of the championship in Nashville, depriving United of a player who had then scored a record 31 goals to win the MVP award for the 2018 MLS Cup title.

In total, he has scored 77 goals in 84 MLS games.

After the descent, Martinez could hardly watch, especially when he saw how much United fell without him.

The team won only six of the 23 games, scoring an average of one goal per game. Only inc incinate scored less points. Especially for the absurd comedian franchise, which during its first two seasons played a touching, offensive mindset led by coach Tata Martino.

“I watched the first two games (of the MLS Is Back) in Orlando, but after that I did not watch any more,” said Martinez. “I will not help there, I’m disappointed, I’m angry. I do not like to get angry because I break my house. “

Recovering the bowel, especially because the team struggled with so many restrictive protocols due to the epidemic, was also difficult. All sorts of doubts would pop into his head when he worked with head coach Mario Cruz.

“I know it’s been a long time, but day-to-day thinking is tough,” Martinez said, training with a neat beard and a set of left-ear jewelry. In the mornings I would talk to Mario and say, ‘I don’t want to play anymore,’ because I could not walk at that moment. I feel good in the afternoon. Until the next day is another day. “

These days, Martinez is excited to be under the pre-season training pattern of new coach Gabriel Heinze.

“I am so happy to be back on the pitch, I enjoyed it with my teammates,” said Martinez.

United have undergone a major transformation since entering the league in 2017, with Martinez just a handful of players from the start of the season.

He is also adjusting to his third coach in five seasons with the club.

Heinze, of course, behaves differently than Stoic de Boer.

“He is very tough,” Martinez said of Heinze. “She is passionate about what she is doing. He thinks he is still a professional footballer. If you do not give 100%, he will kill you. You have to be ready for that. We need to be open to that intensity, because that is what we missed last year. We are tired for a while because we run a lot. ”

Martinez is still struggling a bit with the transition from a recovering player to a healthy one.

He said in Spanish. “The hardest part was feeling like a football fan coming back. “The first days when I started touching the ball were hard. They are still tough. That’s what I had to deal with.

“I am not the first or last person to have this injury. I cried many times, even last week when I had my first trouble, և when I went out to train, I miss it because it was a hard day. But we must continue. “


Follow Paul Newber on Twitter: https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963, his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry


More AP football. Https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer և https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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