On a crazy night in Kennesaw, Atlanta United defeated their USL affiliate, Charleston Battery, in the franchise’s first ever U.S. Open Cup match. The night was full of drama, lightning and intrigue as the back and forth battle saw the Five Stripes recover from two separate one-goal deficits to pull out the 3-2 win.
A bigger piece of news to emerge from the night was the return of Josef Martinez to the club’s starting lineup. The Venezuelan talisman got the start and unexpectedly played the full 90 minutes, scoring a nice goal in the process:
GUESS WHO'S BACK. BACK AGAIN. JOSEF'S BACK. TELL A FRIEND. pic.twitter.com/yRjHa0X25r— Dirty South Soccer (@DirtySouthSoc) June 15, 2017
It’s Josef’s sixth goal in all competitions this season (in just five appearances). The delight of seeing the 24-year-old back on the field and scoring goals was overshadowed by concern in the final minutes of the match as Martinez went down holding his leg. He would get up and limp around a bit as the final seconds ticked off. Thankfully, according to Tata Martino, the discomfort was only cramps due to being forced into a full shift and not a recurrence of the quad injury that’s kept him out of action since March.
“He is tired, but he is happy he scored. He was able to move well, but it was tough for him to goa full 90 minutes. He had some cramps at the end of the game, but it had nothing to do with hisprior injury.” — Tata Martino; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
Two defensive adjustments at halftime and an injury replacement midway through the second half meant that Martinez, Miguel Almiron and Jeff Larentowicz — all first-choice starters for Tata — had to go the full length of the match. Only time will tell how that’ll affect the trio’s availability for the Saturday night home tilt against Columbus Crew.