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Josef Martinez on track to return for Atlanta United’s season opener

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Great news for El Rey.

Atlanta United FC v Philadelphia Union: MLS Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Josef Martinez in on track to make his return to the field on April 6 when Atlanta United travels to Costa Rica for Concacaf Champions League, according to Technical Director and Vice President Carlos Bocanegra.

“The expectation is that he’s fit and available for selection for our first game on April 6th,” Bocanegra said in a teleconference on Friday.

“It’s been good to see him back out there with his teammates. He’s been working hard. It’s been a long road of recovery for him, physically and mentally, on top of the year of COVID. So, you can imagine what that’s like. It’s just good to see him back out there. A lot of credit to Josef. He’s getting back into form.”

The Five Stripes’ season went down in flames as soon as Josef tore up his knee in the first MLS match of the season in 2020. The team could just never recover both talent-wise and from an emotional standpoint. Having him back and fit will likely be just as important as the team learning a new manager’s style of play.

While Bocanegra is preaching some caution with Josef’s return, the great news for Atlanta United is that he’s already showing signs of returning to the superstar he is.

“We don’t want to expect him to be the 30-goal Josef on April 6th. It’s going to take him a little bit of time to get back into his rhythm. But, his movement and shooting and tackling with his teammates [in training] is great to see. He looks like the old Josef.”