Atlanta United have announced they’ve suspended striker Josef Martinez for this weekend’s game against Toronto FC.
The Five Stripes say the decision has been taken due to ‘conduct detrimental to the team’ from Martinez, who will not participate in team activities during his suspension period.
Martinez – who has scored eight goals in just 1,329 minutes of MLS action this season – is scheduled to return to training on Monday, September 12.
According to The Athletic’s Felipe Cardenas, the suspension is the result of an altercation between Martinez and Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda that took place following a 2-1 loss to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.
Cardenes reports that Martinez walked into the locker room after the match – in which he came off the bench and scored his side’s only goal of the game – and, in frustration, kicked over a catering table. Pineda emerged from a separate room and confronted Martinez, with the pair needing to be physically separated.
Despite being the club’s top goalscorer not just this season, but of all-time, Martinez has had to settle for a place on the bench in each of Atlanta United’s last four matches, with Pineda preferring Mexican forward Ronaldo Cisneros. The Venezuela international still managed to score in two of those games.
If reports are true, Pineda wouldn’t be the first head coach Martinez has struggled to get along with, as both Gabriel Heinze and Frank de Boer suffered tense relationships with the striker in the past.
The incident with Martinez is the latest setback in what has been a miserable season for Atlanta United, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference and in serious danger of missing out on the MLS Cup Playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
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