UPDATE, FRIDAY, 10 AM ET: Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer provided an update to Martinez's status on Friday morning, saying his star striker will be the one that decides if he starts or not.
#atlutd martinez will decide if he starts, according to FdB.— Doug Roberson (@DougRobersonAJC) October 4, 2019
WEDNESDAY, 10 AM ET: Could Josef Martinez make a sensational return to the field on Decision Day presented by AT&T?
That seems to be a possibility, with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Doug Roberson reporting that the Venezuelan striker resumed training with Atlanta United on Wednesday morning for the first time since he sustained a knee and ankle injury in the Five Stripes' 3-1 win over San Jose on Sept. 21. The club confirmed his full participation in training later on Wednesday morning.
“Honestly, shockingly, he is. I mean, when I rewatched the video I thought, ‘Oh my God, there goes his knee.’ It just looked bad, but somehow, he’s already out running. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t play this weekend, but maybe they’ll wait until — because we’re already qualified [for the playoffs] — maybe they’ll wait the extra two weeks and give him time.”
The reigning MLS Golden Boot holder, Martinez is instrumental to ATLUTD's hopes of defending their MLS Cup crown and his team are 0-1-1 in his absence, which was originally feared to be of the season-ending variety. He did tease the prospect of his return in an Instagram video and reports have suggested that the injury has proved less serious than early prognoses indicated.
Atlanta host New England on Sunday (4 pm ET | TV & streaming info), needing a victory to be sure they hold on to second place in the Eastern Conference standings ahead of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs. Those three points would ensure that the Five Stripes would not have to go on the road until the Eastern Conference Final.