Atlanta United star Josef Martinez officially done for year

ATLANTA (AP) — Atlanta United star Josef Martinez is done for the year.

The MLS team placed Martinez on the season-ending injury list because with of a torn knee ligament sustained in Atlanta’s first league game on Feb. 29.

There were hopes that Martinez might be able to return late in the season, especially with the MLS schedule pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic

But the move announced Friday means Martinez can’t play in any league games or other competitions , such as the CONCACAF Champions League, for the remainder of the MLS season. United gains an additional roster spot, which should be valuable going into the summer transfer window.

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“Josef’s rehab is progressing well and is going to plan,” said Carlos Bocanegra, the team’s technical director. “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. 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 United is looking to bolster its roster after a dismal performance at the MLS Is Back tournament. The team lost all three games and failed to score a goal, leading to the departure of coach Frank de Boer.

The 27-year-old Martinez has emerged as one of the league biggest stars and face of the Atlanta franchise since it entered the league in 2017. He scored a then-record 31 goals in 2018, earning the league MVP award and helping United win the MLS Cup in just its second season.

Martinez scored 27 goals last season, but he was injured in the very first league game at Nashville. He underwent surgery March 18 to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

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