Gonzalo Pineda and Atlanta United could receive a much needed boost — even if just emotionally — with the potential inclusion of Josef Martinez in the matchday squad when the team takes the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium tomorrow night against the Columbus Crew.
Speaking to media at the team’s training facility yesterday, Pineda said that Josef has fully integrated back into team training sessions to prepare for the weekend’s opponent. He said the only question is how Martinez recovers between now and tomorrow from the stressful sessions.
“He’s fully integrated into the training sessions. Obviously because the surgery and long period of absence of training, we are evaluating whether he’ll be on the bench or not. Tomorrow we’ll make the final decision,” said Pineda. “We just want to see how he feels. Sometimes recovery after this week [is difficult because] it’s kind of an overload for him because he hasn’t been involved in any weekly training sessions. So we just want to take a look at how he recovers from the last few days.”
Pineda’s quote here is very positive news, as it suggests everything is going to according to plan with the Venezuelan’s return. Based on the comment, I’d be surprised if he’s not included in the squad, if only to allow him to participate in the team activities during a match day and allow him to feel that process.
While Josef is listed as questionable, he’s probably more likely to play a role against Columbus than Santiago Sosa or Caleb Wiley. Pineda said those two players are on the field training on the grass, but still working on the side of most of the sessions. It seems that there would need to be tangible physical progress made by either of those players for them to have a role in tomorrow’s game. That said, the update is a positive sign for their return following the international break which starts after the upcoming game.