Josef Martinez

Atlanta United have suspended star striker Josef Martinez for one game for “conduct detrimental to the team,” the club announced Wednesday morning.

Martinez, who is scheduled to re-join the team next Monday (Sept. 12), will miss their Week 30 home match against Toronto FC on Saturday evening (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+). In the meantime, he won’t participate in team activity this week.

According to The Athletic's Felipe Cardenas and Pablo Maurer, a locker-room incident occurred after last weekend's 2-1 loss at the Portland Timbers. Martinez scored in the 88th minute at Providence Park after subbing on in the second half.

The 29-year-old Venezuelan international has eight goals and four assists in 22 games (12 starts) this year – standings as ATLUTD's leading scorer. He’s come off the bench as of late, with head coach Gonzalo Pineda preferring Ronaldo Cisneros from the opening whistle.

Earlier this year, the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS MVP missed nearly two months from April to May while recovering from a knee procedure. Martinez missed almost all of Atlanta’s 2020 campaign with a torn ACL, fighting to rediscover peak form ever since.

The public face of Atlanta’s injury-hit squad, Martinez gave an impassioned speech after a 3-0 home loss to Austin FC in early July in which he called out teammates and the front office. His outsized importance to the club also contributed to two ex-head coaches – Gabriel Heinze and Frank de Boer – departing in recent years.

Atlanta, 2018 MLS Cup champions, are in danger of missing the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the second time in three years. They enter the weekend five points off the Eastern Conference’s pace, sitting in 11th place with five games to go (8W-12L-9D).

Martinez is the club’s all-time leading scorer with 97 goals and 16 assists across 130 games (111 starts). Martinez, often sporting the captain's armband in Atlanta, is under contract through the 2023 season.