Josef Martinez’s first game against NYCFC didn’t go as planned, and in the aftermath of his essentially anonymous performance, there’s some dividing opinions on how to view the performance among Atlanta United fans. Personally, I think it’s fine to call a spade a spade.
Having missed last season’s two meetings due to injury. The Venezuelan striker was in the starting lineup after an injury scare early in the week, having injured his fingers in a collision during practice. But that wasn’t enough to keep him out of this key match up against the MLS and Eastern Conference leaders.
The NYCFC defense did very well taking him out of the game early on. Nothing went his way and you could see he wasn’t happy with his contribution. It’s known that Josef scores most of his goals at home so it was surprising he didn’t even have a shot all match.
#NYCFC did very well keeping Josef Martinez quiet--limiting him to 0 shots (!), 13/15 passes, and 18 touches (all of them far from goal). #ATLUTD also only completed 3/28 crosses (11%) and 2/18 open play crosses (1 of them was Almirón's assist on McCann's goal). #ATLvNYC #MLS pic.twitter.com/uyVguCQsDu— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 16, 2018
To add to his misery, VAR ruled out Darlington Nagbe’s amazing strike just before the end of the first half because Josef was probably interfering with Sean Johnson.
Darlington Nagbe thought he'd scored his 1st #ATLUTD goal to restore the lead against #NYCFC, but it was ruled out after Video Review because Josef Martinez was in an offside position and adjuged to have interfered with Sean Johnson. It's still 1-1. #ATLvNYC #MLS pic.twitter.com/71aVnbnzR6— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) April 15, 2018
In the second half it was more of the same and he grew more and more frustrated as the match went on. You could see him visibly upset after every failed attempt from his teammates to get him the ball.
At the end of the match, Tata Martino spoked about Josef Martinez’s body language:
“I think that it is logical that when he is not scoring that he feels frustrated, but also, maybe on one of the last plays, if he arrives at the near post and scores then he is happy at the end of the game. Today, I think that he was frustrated because not only did he not score, but also he didn’t really have any chances come his way tonight.”
Everyone has an off night, maybe his fingers were bothering him, maybe he missed Tito Villalba (I DID), or just NYCFC are a really good team. Considering our team is not even fully fit yet, a draw against the top team in the league is not bad, it’s something we can build on and learn from.
For example, we all know Cristiano Ronaldo is a great goal scorer, the second-best player in the world, but even he has bad games and is criticized when he should, like he should. One game that reminds me of Josef’s game was the last Clasico in Madrid. He didn’t show up like he usually does, and Madrid ended up losing badly. Even though Atlanta didn’t lose we still should expect more from our superstars in big stages. Is it unfair? Maybe, but for better or worse that’s how it works in modern football, when their teams win they get all the glory so its only fair they take some of the blame when their team doesn’t win.
I love everything about Josef, he’s a good player, but that doesn’t mean I can’t criticize him for having a bad game at home against a top conference rival. And if he was hurting that bad we should’ve played Romario. Also, I’m pretty sure Josef is going to score more goals than Zlatan next week.