Josef Martinez was carried off during Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, and it’s safe to say the city of Atlanta is holding its breath.
A collision, followed by an awkward landing in the second half that caused Martinez to be substituted out in the 79th minute, led to the sight of Martinez in tears on the sideline, followed by a medical crew carrying him off the Mercedes-Benz Field on a stretcher, a towel covering his face.
While it appeared to be a knee injury, Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer said the team would likely learn more in evaluating the star striker Sunday.
“Probably tomorrow we can have a better diagnosis and then we have to make our plan,” he told reporters after the win. “Hopefully it’s not so bad. But I can’t say if it’s good or bad. I don’t know.”
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De Boer was optimistic despite an initial diagnosis not being forthcoming, but he admitted the images on the field weren’t exactly inspiring.
“We know Josef a little bit — he’s a tough guy. He will not suddenly step off the field. He will have something, that’s for sure. But we have to wait. It’s too early to predict. But I think it’s not a good sign that he goes off … but it’s like that. We have to deal with it. Again, we have to wait.”
Speaking to Spanish-language media later in his press conference, De Boer sounded a more downbeat tone.
“I’m afraid that he has something serious, but we have to wait,” he said. “They’re evaluating him now.”
And if Martinez, who is second in the Golden Boot presented by Audi standings, two goals behind Carlos Vela, has to miss time?
“First of all we have to wait, but I’m in soccer so long now other players would have to step up in that moment,” De Boer said. “If he’s out for one or two games or more then other players have to stand up. That’s what they’re training for – to step in. And I warn them every time, every moment – be patient, your chance will come. But then you have to be ready.
“Hopefully other people will stand up. I’m going to see which one will replace him if he’s injured. Hopefully, I don’t have to think about it,” De Boer added.