Defenders across Major League Soccer will be on high alert as Josef Martinez edges closer to his return for Atlanta United.
Despite suffering with injuries over the past couple of years, the Venezuelan remains one of the most feared strikers in MLS thanks to a record of 104 goals in 137 games for the Five Stripes across all competitions.
Martinez underwent surgery to remove debris from his right knee - the same one that suffered an ACL tear back in early 2020 - on April 8 and has been sidelined since. But the 29-year-old returned to training earlier this week and, according to head coach Gonzalo Pineda, is making 'a lot of progress' on his road to recovery.
“He's doing very good, very good,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said during the week. “He's reintegrating to the training sessions in a partial way and he's doing stuff on the side after that. But more preparing him on the fitness side. He's making a lot of progress, so we're very happy with that.”
An exact timeline for Martinez's return hasn't been set, but the striker's status for this weekend's match against Nashville SC has been upgraded to 'questionable'. Pineda's aim is to try and have the striker ready for full training sessions next week.
“I feel like the knee is responding very well, so we're actually very excited about that, about him being more comfortable with the knee and being able to produce more on the fitness side and physicality,” Pineda said. “We're very happy with that. We're in a positive moment in the rehab and we will see maybe next week he starts to reintegrate completely to the training sessions.”
Atlanta United are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference but have been progressing in the final third with the likes of Thiago Almada, Luiz Araujo, Marcelino Moreno, and Ronaldo Cisneros forming a connection.