Josef Martinez won’t be doing any more goal-scoring for Atlanta United in 2020. (Photo courtesy of MLS)
ATLANTA – The news only got grimmer for Atlanta United Friday as the Major League Soccer team placed all-star forward Josef Martinez on the season-ending injury list.
Martinez underwent surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee March 18 after suffering the injury during Atlanta’s season-opening win over Nashville SC Feb. 29.
The club then signed Mexican international Erick “Cubo” Torres as a season-ending replacement player.
The loss of Martinez is devastating because he has been a threat on attack and essentially a goal-scoring machine for Atlanta. The team had been hopeful that Martinez would return this season.
“Josef’s rehab is progressing well and is going to plan; however, it was important for us to make this move as it gives us roster relief and flexibility for the rest of the 2020 season,” United vice president and technical director Carlos Bocanegra said in a statement. “We will miss his ability and leadership on the field this season, but we look forward to having him back at the start of preseason next year.”
Atlanta lost all three of its group matches at the MLS Is Back Tournament and then parted ways with head coach Frank de Boer.
Torres, who has a permanent resident card and will be registered as a domestic player, was out of contract after spending the last two seasons in Liga MX. He will be added to the roster pending the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
“Cubo is a natural goalscoring forward who will bolster our frontline and we’re pleased to add a player of his quality to the team,” Bocanegra said. “He has consistently shown his finishing abilities in MLS, Liga MX and on the international stage, and we expect him to immediately contribute to the second half of our season.”
Torres, 27, joins Atlanta United with more than 230 professional appearances and 65 goals while also featuring for the Mexican national team. He spent the last two years playing in Liga MX, most recently with Club Tijuana, where he tallied seven goals in 37 appearances across all competitions. Torres spent the 2018 season with UNAM Pumas where he scored two goals in eight appearances.
The striker played parts of five seasons in MLS from 2013-2017 where he amassed 36 goals in 93 MLS regular season matches. He was loaned to Chivas USA from its then-sister club Chivas Guadalajara midway through the 2013 MLS season and was signed as a Designated Player. Torres went on to score seven goals in 15 appearances and returned for the 2014 campaign. That year he scored 15 goals in 29 regular season matches, was named to the 2014 MLS All-Star Team and became the league’s all-time leading Mexican goal-scorer.
Torres was signed by Houston Dynamo prior to the 2015 season as a Designated Player but was loaned to Guadalajara for six months where he scored two goals in five appearances. He was again loaned during the 2016 season to Cruz Azul where he made three appearances. In his first full season with the Dynamo, Torres had a break-out 2017 campaign when he netted 14 goals, Houston’s single-season record. He also became the second Mexican to record a hat-trick in MLS in a 4-1 win over the Red Bulls April 1, 2017.