As if getting smacked 3-0 at home wasn’t enough, Atlanta United’s icon — the face of the whole club — went and dropped multiple nukes on everything after said disaster. Instead of pretending everything is okay and chalking up the horrible 2022 season thus far to bad luck and injuries, Josef laid it all out on the table and spoke his mind.
What followed was an epic rant that included questioning his teammates’ heart and desire, wondering about his own future at the club, and even throwing some not-so-subtle shots at the decision makers at the top of the organization. Our fearless leader Joe Patrick summed it all up in a tweet thread that you can see below.
Josef Martinez: "[This game] happened months ago... A lot has obviously changed since 2017... Nothing that happened tonight was a surprise."— Joe Patrick (@japatrick200) July 10, 2022
I’m not going to dissect everything he touched on in his honest diatribe, but it’s eerily similar to things we’ve seen commented on this site and around the Atlanta United community for the last three-plus years. While it’s refreshing to have someone of Josef’s stature coming out in public and saying these things, it still doesn’t do anything about solving the problems. They only way things are going to start getting better is if the people making the important decisions at the club hear those words and take them to heart. That doesn’t mean Darren Eales should wake up in the morning, fire everyone and transfer out 10 players. But it’s obvious from Josef comments that there are some serious problems from top to bottom and until the right people accept that and make difficult decisions to address them, they likely aren’t going away anytime soon.
Unfortunately, it’s impossible for us outside of the locker room to comment on the inner-dynamics of the squad. Who is trying hard and giving their all for the club is something for the management to identify. We only get to see what is shown to us. However, what we saw against Austin was a team with absolutely no heart or passion. Bad performances happen. Bad seasons happen. But even back in 2020 when the club were running the likes of Adam Jahn and Jake Mulraney out with regularity there was still visible effort and a willingness to fight. That seems to have dissipated entirely with a lack of leadership on the field. It’s just clear now that there’s an imbalance within the roster when it comes to skill and intangibles. Back in the ‘glory days’ you had players like Michael Parkhurst and Jeff Larentowicz who brought that unquantifiable thing that makes teams operate on the field and off of it. Now, the squad just seems like a bunch of random names that were found by sorting some stats on a computer without any thought of that emotional dynamic.
All of these issues seem to boil down to the overall picture of roster building. Back in September 2020, Carlos Bocanegra said this in his post-season media availability:
“If people want to have criticisms and anger, they can point that toward myself. That’s fine. We need to do better.”
Here we are almost two years later and is anything really better? It’s hard to say that they’ve done anything to improve the team. Without blatantly coming out and saying who to blame, I’ll just refer to that quote from the team’s Technical Director.
Until better and smarter decisions are made from a player acquisition standpoint, the club is going to continue to be mired in mediocrity and disappointment. No matter how many high-priced, highly-touted South American phenoms they bring in, until the overall roster construction is improved, it’s hard to see how this club gets back to being a trophy contender again.