MLS Insider: Tom Bogert

"It's my decision:" Josef Martinez training away from Atlanta team, says Heinze

Atlanta United's attacking issues just got a bit more complicated.

Head coach Gabriel Heinze revealed that superstar forward Josef Martinez is not with the group and is training alone. While he didn't go into specifics, Heinze asserted it was a "coach's decision" rather than Martinez working on his fitness, a reason the team noted on July 6.

"He doesn't have any kind of fitness problem. It's my decision that he train away from the team," Heinze told media on Thursday. "He'll continue to train on his own."

Heinze added that he doesn't want to use the media to send messages to players.

"I have my reasons and I'm very clear on those reasons," Heinze said for why Martinez is training alone.

Martinez is a beloved figure in Atlanta. He won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award in 2018 and helped Atlanta host that year's MLS Cup, a game in which he was named MLS Cup MVP. He has 79 goals and 11 assists in 91 career MLS matches.

After missing nearly all of 2020 with a torn ACL, Martinez has two goals in seven appearances this season as he tries to find his best form. Martinez last appeared for Atlanta on May 29 before departing for national team duty with Venezuela at the Copa America.

When he returned to Atlanta, the club noted he was training on his own to build fitness after missing time due to a positive COVID-19 test in South America.

Atlanta are already without a number of key players. George Bello, Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan and Ezequiel Barco are away on international duty, while the likes of Emerson Hyndman, Franco Ibarra, Jurgen Damm, Alan Franco and Mo Adams are dealing with injuries of varying lengths.

Atlanta United host the Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution on Saturday (5 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes, TSN). If Martinez isn't selected to the matchday roster, Cubo Torres, Erik Lopez and Jackson Conway will be among Heinze's choices up top. Heinze, who last led Velez Sarsfield in his native Argentina, is in his first season with the club.

They currently sit 10th in the Eastern Conference standings with 13 points after 12 games, scoring just 12 goals.