Atlanta United head coach Gabriel Heinze revealed forward Josef Martinez is currently training away from the group.
Heinze failed to provide in depth details, but asserted that the decision was his to make rather than imposed by any injury or fitness issues. The head coach also failed to address the longevity of his isolated training, simply announcing the situation during a recent press conference.
Heinze shocked the soccer world as no previous arguments with the striker had been noticed or reported.
“He doesn’t have any kind of fitness problem. It’s my decision that he train away from the team,” Heinze told media on Thursday. “He’ll continue to train on his own.”
Heinze remained firm throughout the conference, failing to divulge any further information but reiterating that his reasoning is concrete. After years of positive contributions to the squad, Heinze’s announcement marked a sharp change. In 2018, Martinez won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award and the MLS Cup MVP. Beyond his contributions on the pitch, the player is a beloved figure in the city and a fan favorite.
But Heinze doubled down on his decision, adding: “I have my reasons and I’m very clear on those reasons.”
Martinez missed out on the entire 2020 season with a torn ACL, recently returning to record two goals in seven appearances this year. He last featured for Atlanta United on May 29 against Nashville SC before departing for the Copa America with Venezuela. Upon his return, Martinez was forced to train alone and build fitness after testing positive for Covid-19 while on international duty.
Though many expected Martinez to reunite with the team after a couple weeks, Heinze debunked speculation. The team is currently without several players including George Bello, Miles Robinson, Brad Guzan and Ezequiel Barco who are away on international duty. Emerson Hyndman, Jurgen Damm, Franco Ibarra, Alan Franco and Mo Adams are also unavailable due to injuries.