Dressed in the club’s signature pink and black training gear, Joseph Martinez stepped onto the balcony overlooking Inter Miami’s training pitch to settle for the first ever 1-1 as an Inter Miami player. He held his coffee in one hand and his cell phone in the other as the sound of an English Premier League match blared from the speakers.
“I’m looking at my man[Miguel Almiron],” Martinez said with a laugh.
It’s still weird to see Martinez in the colors of Inter Miami. His 6-his season with Atlanta was highlighted by a prolific partnership with Almiron in 2017 and his 2018, followed by multiple league and individual honors. For most of the club’s existence, Martinez has been synonymous with Atlanta United’s red and black stripes.His exit from the city has been hasty, but that hasn’t changed and in a fuss.
His tone of voice is not angry when he talks about Atlanta United. When asked if there would be distance between some of Atlanta United’s members and the club, Martinez replied, “Of course.”
“Playing against (Darlington) Nagbe in pre-season reminded me of a lot,” Martinez said. “He’s a great guy and I know how things ended for him too. In my opinion the best player I’ve seen in this league. The only player given a proper send off.” was Parkey (Michael Parkhurst), the rest of us all came out the back door, we all did and we were players who won championships for our clubs. was an employee and unfortunately they all retired like that, but I will always be grateful.
“We give our bodies to the organization. To this day, I don’t recall receiving a message from (Arthur Blank).”
His voice dropped when he mentioned the club’s owner, Blank. Martinez may have butted heads with coaches in Atlanta, but his relationship at the top of the organization has always been positive. athleticBlank expressed his intention to meet with Martinez at an appropriate time.
“Joseph will always be a part of Atlanta United’s history and will be remembered as one of the most beloved players by our fans, team and my family,” Blank wrote. “It is never easy for a long-time Falcons or United player to end their time in Atlanta. I look forward to sitting down with Joseph in the future when our schedules coincide and enjoying a long friendship with him like so many others.”
After making 158 appearances for Atlanta United and scoring 111 goals in all competitions, the Venezuelan had missed a goodbye, but on this day, a week before Inter Miami’s regular-season debut, Martinez returned to action. He smiled.
“I’m especially happy now that my son is born,” he said. “I love Miami. I come here whenever I have a day off, even if it’s just a few days. The Venezuelan community is really big here. A friend and close to home (Venezuela).”
Martinez laughs when asked what kind of father he is. “Idiot,” he said. “I don’t know! I like him sleeping on my chest. It’s true, but it’s hard. If I knew how this made me feel, I would have had my baby sooner.” I love kids, so imagine how I feel about myself.”
That’s the soft side of Martinez. And becoming a father will give a man a new perspective on life. But on the field, the striker has to be ruthless. Requires thick skin and a short memory. Asked if he had the same hunger and grunt that fans love and opponents fear, Martinez leaned forward and answered without hesitation.
“That’s the only me I know,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is a game, a sport. I’m not here because I wanted a new uniform, or because I’ve been here for a year, no, I’m here to win.
Martinez signed for Inter Miami as a free agent in late January. He signed a one-year contract with an option for a second year. It would be an ideal situation for both sides if Martinez can get back in shape in front of goal. Martinez scored his 77th regular-season goal in his first three of his season with Atlanta. He recorded his 21st in his last two seasons, but major injuries, new tactics and coaching his carousel hampered his production.
his new manager Phil Neville Said athletic After Gonzalo Higuain retired, he was his number one transfer destination.
“We were talking about the roster, but[Inter Miami owners]like to be involved in everything. ‘How about Joseph Martinez?’ I said. Because I knew everything wasn’t right in Atlanta,” explained Neville.
The situation between Martinez and Atlanta United had deteriorated towards the end of the 2022 season. Martinez said his director of Atlanta technicals, Carlos Bocanegra, had one year left on his contract. notification Martinez said in October that he was no longer part of the club’s future. Martinez’s exit from the club is all but complete after being banned for a week for what he deemed to be.
Martinez has not run away from his reputation for being difficult for managers to control. But after only two months in Miami, Martinez is on top of his game.
“I haven’t done anything of my own—because I’ve only just gotten here,” he said with a laugh. He is the only Joseph I know, and I will never change for anyone.
For Neville, the pros of that approach outweighed the cons.
“One thing has always stuck with me,” Neville said of Martinez. “He’s a winner.” “And every time I kept talking to someone outside of this football club, around people who knew him, they kept saying, I’ll be mad if we don’t win the five-a-side.” Is that a bad thing or a good thing?” I want 22 more of these players. ”
In Miami, Martinez is not expected to be the player he was when he dominated the league with Atlanta United. The now 29-year-old Venezuela national team forward has a lot of mileage on his feet. That means he will miss most of the 2020 MLS season after having his right knee surgically repaired. He joined Inter his Miami preseason camp later than his new teammate and has continued to catch up with him ever since.
That knee has been repaired, but it’s still a painful problem for Martinez.
“When things weren’t going well[in Atlanta]everybody said it was because of my knee,” Martinez said. “They always had to find something. Anything to minimize the problems there. As soon as I arrived they went straight to the point and I passed (my I haven’t had any problems with my knee since my last surgery after the DC (United) game (2 April 2022).”
Martinez started in the first two matches for Inter Miami. He played 68 minutes to start the season against Montreal and played 75 minutes the following weekend against MLS Cup favorites Philadelphia, who won both 2–0. What was evident was Martinez’s soft first touch, underrated hold-up play, and ability to draw teammates into the game. However, he finished with just two of his shots, but this is due to the continued development of chemistry with his teammates and the addition of a number of new players to his Miami squad. .
An injury to Ecuadorian striker Leonardo Campana has forced Neville to play with one true centre-forward, but his plan is to pair the 22-year-old centre-forward with Martinez. Internally, Martinez and Campana are expected to gradually become one of the league’s top attacking tandems.
Miami sports director Chris Henderson, who became a famous front-office executive for the Seattle Sounders, praised Martinez’s character and compared him to the Sounders’ greats.
“[Martinez]reminds me a little bit of Obafemi Martins,” Henderson said. “I’m a goalscorer like I’m here to score goals. I’m driven. If I don’t do it, I’m not doing my job.”
In Seattle, Martins formed an effective partnership with American attacker Clint Dempsey and was a finalist for the 2014 MLS Best XI Striker and MVP awards.
“If they can figure out how to play together, maybe they can do something with a click,” Henderson said.
Martinez says numbers don’t really matter at this stage in his career. “It’s the ring that counts. Nothing else,” he insisted. But he’s noting his one big milestone, his 98 regular season MLS goals. If he reaches 101, Martinez will pass Taylor Twellman for 10th on the MLS all-time scoring list. That alone would be a huge accomplishment for Martinez, but Martinez wants more.
“I’m trying to get closer to Wondorowski,” Martinez said, referring to MLS all-time scoring leader Chris Wondorowski, who tops the list with 171 goals. “That’s my biggest personal goal. I want to surpass him. Hopefully I can do it and obviously win the title for this club. The organization and the city need it.”
Martinez is happy again, even if the road to newfound satisfaction wasn’t what he had planned.
“I knew this was the show from the moment I arrived (at MLS),” he said. “You’re important until they say you’re gone. Then you’re just a normal person. Thank you to the fans who paid to come see me play. Come to the stadium.” The fans who buy my jerseys for me.These are the people I really care about.Listen, my number is right there.Anyone who wants to see it can do it.I don’t know much about the people who don’t. I don’t care.”
(Photo: Rich Story-USA TODAY Sports)