Atlanta United’s star forward Josef Martinez has called out the players and front office after a four-match winless streak left the Five Stripes 11th in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta have lost three of those four matches and have won just five MLS games so far in 2022.
Injuries have played their part in Atlanta’s issues but after a 3-0 home defeat to Austin FC last weekend, Martinez did not hold back with his criticism.
“The injuries isn’t the biggest problem,” said the striker. “We play soccer and you can have injuries every day. And some people still think ‘oh, because we lost this guy, this guy.
“We all make mistakes and we are professionals. We’re not kids anymore. And if you come here you have to know what you have to do. And if you don’t come here for 100 percent, probably you don’t have to choose to play at this club.
“We play because we have to play, but in the training some people don’t have that energy. Some people don’t know what they have to do, or they don’t recognize or appreciate the jersey and what we’ve been doing for a long time, and probably that’s the biggest problem.”
Martinez also suggested Atlanta’s front office must share the responsibility, too.
He said: “If you want to bring guys here, it’s because they want to play here and it’s not because of business, and that’s been happening for a long time.”
Next up for Atlanta are Real Salt Lake, who are winless in three games but sit third in the Western Conference.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Atlanta United – Thiago Almada
Thiago Almada had 100 touches against Austin, creating two chances and having five attempts. However, he will have to be more clinical this time out, as he failed to get any of them on target.
Real Salt Lake – Jefferson Savarino
Jefferson Savarino scored the first of Real Salt Lake’s two goals against Colorado on Saturday. Savarino now has three goals this season, tying for the team lead, despite not playing his first MLS match this season until May 28 and not scoring his first goal until June 18.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first meeting between Atlanta and Salt Lake in over three years, since a 2-1 RSL home win in May 2019. Atlanta won the lone meeting between the sides at Mercedes Benz Stadium, a 2-0 victory in September 2018.
– Atlanta suffered the worst home loss in the club’s MLS history on Saturday, falling, 3-0 to Austin. The Five Stripes have lost two of their last three home matches (W1) following a 13-match unbeaten run at Mercedes Benz Stadium (W8 D5) that dated back to last September.
– Salt Lake conceded two goals late on Saturday, losing a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw with Colorado.
– RSL has allowed five goals in their last two games after allowing just six total goals in their previous nine league matches.
– Atlanta held 62.4 percent possession in its loss to Austin on Saturday. It marked the seventh time Atlanta has lost a match in which it held at least 55 percent of the ball, the most such losses in MLS this season.