Atlanta United confirm ACL injury for Josef Martinez

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Josef Martinez Atlanta 2019
The Venezuelan striker has starred for the club in recent seasons but will now struggle to get back on the pitch this year

Atlanta United have confirmed Josef Martinez tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in the club's MLS season opener on Saturday. 

Martinez was replaced in the 69th minute of that match against Nashville which Atlanta ultimately won 2-1. 

While Frank de Boer's side opened their campaign with three points, they've been handed a massive early blow with confirmation that Martinez will now require surgery on his ACL. 

"Atlanta United announced today that forward Josef Martinez suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee during Saturday’s match against Nashville SC," a club statement read.

"Martinez will undergo surgery on a date to be determined to begin the rehabilitation process." 

The 26-year-old Venezuela international moved to Atlanta in 2017 and would pick up the MLS golden boot in the 2018 season as he struck 31 times in the league. 

Martinez continued to fire freely in 2019 and after scoring in a record 12 consecutive MLS games, he ended the year with 27 league goals to his name. 

Atlanta now face the prospect of a season without their star striker with their manager making no secret of how hard it will be to replace a player like Martinez. 

“Everybody knows that Josef, when he’s in form, he’s the best in MLS,” De Boer said on Saturday. “In training you see the quality. It’s going to be a big loss.

“We have to search and not make a hasty decision. If he’s ruled out, there’s a good possibility that we are looking at the market for a replacement." 

Atlanta finished second in the Eastern Conference last season before falling to Toronto in the finals.

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De Boer's side next face FC Cincinnati in MLS on Saturday night before taking on Club America in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League quarter-final. 

Atlanta saw off Motagua in the last-16 after claiming a 3-0 second-leg home win that sealed a 4-1 victory on aggregate. Martinez had struck twice across those matches to underline just how much he could be missed by the club moving forward. 

Last season's Champions League winners, Monterrey, failed to qualify for this year's edition meaning they won't be able to defend their crown.