Atlanta United remains winless against Inter Miami after playing to a 1-1 draw at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday. It’s still early days in the MLS season, but Atlanta missed out on the chance to earn three points and move into second in the Eastern Conference. Instead, the result moves Atlanta United into seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 1-2-1 record and five points.
There were parallels between Atlanta and Miami heading into this matchup. Both teams are coming off disappointing 2020 seasons. Both teams appointed new managers who were teammates at Manchester United before this season. Both teams had four points and 1-1-1 records in 2021 coming into Sunday’s contest.
What Inter Miami doesn't have, however, is Josef Martinez, whose strike in the 9th minute put Atlanta United ahead of Inter Miami for the majority of the match.
It was his first goal since his ACL injury against Nashville SC at the beginning of the 2020 season. Before that injury, the last MLS goal he scored was against the Philadelphia Union in 2019. That’s a long time.
EMOTIVO ES POCO: Josef Martínez anotó su primer gol tras la lesión y fue directo a abrazarse con el banco del Atlanta United. Su último tanto había sido el 25 de febrero de 2020. pic.twitter.com/0ClyGgVZ84— SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) May 9, 2021
The goal itself was a reminder of what kind of player prime Josef Martinez is — ruthless with a burning desire to score goals. As the season continues, these flashes of pre-ACL-tear Josef will hopefully transition into a steady stream of good performances and bunches of goals.
“My first [instinct] is to go to the doctors because they spent a lot of time with me, and they deserve it,” Josef said. “Today was the best moment in my life because we work a lot, we suffer a lot, and hopefully this [goal] is the first of many.”
Unfortunately for Josef and Atlanta United, one goal was not enough to bring three points back to Atlanta. Lewis Morgan drew Inter Miami level with the Five Stripes in the 77th minute.
“The first 45, the team did well,” said Atlanta United head coach Gabriel Heinze. “We should have scored more, but the second half, we struggled to keep this intensity. Also we struggled with the short recovery from the last game.”
Atlanta United will return to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium on May 15 to take on CF Montréal in front of a full capacity crowd. Montreal will play Inter Miami on Wednesday before making the trip to Atlanta later in the week.