UPDATE (6:15 pm ET, 9/25): Martinez will not feature for Atlanta in the Bronx tonight, as he was not included in Frank de Boer's match day squad vs. NYCFC. Brandon Vazquez will start in the No. 9 role in Martinez's place:
Could Josef Martinez make a stunning return to match action this week, just days after he sustained an injury widely feared to be season-ending?
That’s at least a remote possibility as Atlanta United prepare to visit New York City FC in Wednesday’s top-of-the-table clash at Yankee Stadium (7 pm ET | TV and streaming info), with the Five Stripes officially categorizing their Venezuelan striker as “questionable” in their match notes.
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Atlanta United’s official media notes list Josef Martinez as questionable for tomorrow’s match with a leg injury— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) September 24, 2019
That status contrasts somewhat with the words of head coach Frank de Boer on Monday, who told media that Martinez would likely miss at least one game after being stretchered off the Mercedes-Benz Stadium pitch during Saturday’s 3-1 win over San Jose. That said, the Dutchman did leave a bit of wiggle room in his remarks.
“We're working from day to day,” de Boer said of Martinez, whose ailment has only been described in the most general terms as an ankle and knee issue. “I was predicting maybe four weeks out or something like that, but right now it doesn’t look so bad … It’s quite early to say, but we have a good feeling that hopefully he can return quicker than we thought.
“He’s still in a lot of pain,” added the coach. “He landed a little bit strange and I think he felt something, but it’s difficult to tell where it is.”
Wednesday’s game has huge implications for both teams, with ATLUTD still hoping to catch and pass Eastern Conference-leading NYCFC in the hunt for first place in the regular-season standings and the first-round playoff bye it offers, as well as home-field advantage throughout the East bracket.
But the Five Stripes also face a quick turnaround to their next match, Sunday’s visit to Montreal. Atlanta host New England on Decision Day presented by AT&T. Also of note: ATLUTD attacker Ezequiel Barco is also listed as questionable for Wednesday as he works his way back from a knee injury.