Atlanta United eeked out a 3-2 win over an absolutely dire D.C. United side on Sunday. There wasn’t much to take away from the result itself. But with the introduction of Josef Martinez off the bench and the spark he provided, it’s time to start talking about what his role should be going forward, both in the current season and beyond.
- I’m not going to delve into this match too much. Winning is always nice, but having to overcome two separate deficits against the very worst team in the league who hadn’t scored a goal in around 500 minutes isn’t much to celebrate, in my mind. However, there was one bright performance worth talking about. The substitute appearance from Josef Martinez was a welcome sight for all Atlanta United fans. This was as lively and threatening as he has looked in quite a while, albeit against a team that looked about as defensively stout as a punching bag. Josef’s exploits and Ronaldo Cisneros’s continued lack of effectiveness in front of the goal now begs the question; is it time for Josef to return to the lineup? At the risk of sounding hypocritical for begging Gonzalo Pineda to exude some consistency with his lineup selections, I have to say absolutely yes it is, for many different reasons.
- First and foremost, it’s time to admit that Cisneros is not the answer — whether it’s short term or long term — to the club’s striker spot. This is not a dig at the Mexican as he’s done a fine job coming in on loan, but he’s just not “the guy” to become the focal point of the goal-scoring. If they want to bring him back next season to help the striker depth, as was the original plan for him, I’d have no issues with that. But if the club has any plans on him being the full-time No. 9 for this club, something has gone horribly wrong.
- With that in mind, I believe it’s time for Josef to get the rest of the season to play as many minutes as his legs will allow him to. This would serve as a multitude of things depending on what his future as an Atlanta United player looks like. Heading into the 2023 season the time is now to decide if Josef Martinez is going to be your attacking focal point for the foreseeable future. Perhaps these last few games will help you make that decision. If this is the last handful of matches in his time here, he deserves to go out on the field, fighting for the club. In turn, if you still have hopes of sneaking into the playoffs, it’s only right to live or die with your face of the franchise on the field as the focal point instead of being a bit part player.
- Whether or not Josef Martinez’s story with Atlanta United is winding down or just at a low point, he deserves the chance play in front of the fans that have adored him for so long, especially with the stakes considerably low at the moment. With his future in such an uncertain state, it’s time now more than every to appreciate every little moment of what has been an iconic career in Atlanta. There’s no telling when the last goal or last celebration in front of the supporters will come.