Josef Martinez Brace Gives Inter Miami CF The 2-1 Win Over Atlanta United

Josef Martinez Miami Atlanta

DRV PNK Stadium – Josef  Martinez ended his scoring drought for Inter Miami CF Saturday night with a brace against his former club Atlanta United, leading the Herons to a 2-1 victory. Martinez became the fastest player to reach 100 goals in MLS history, doing so in 142 games. Previously, Bradley Wright-Phillips held the record at 159 games.

Kick Off

The Starting XI for Inter Miami CF had one modification from their previous match against Columbus Crew. David Ruiz was slotted in by Phil Neville to replace the injured Jean Mota.

Despite an initial fast-paced back and forth, it was a rather uninspiring first half for both squads. Inter Miami CF was determined to stay compact and contain the dangerous Thiago Almada and the Atlanta United attack while counter-attacking at opportune moments.

The scoring took place in the second half, with Josef Martinez putting Miami in the lead over Atlanta with a penalty kick at the 59′ minute, mere moments after he was subbed into the game.

Just a few minutes later Josef Martinez would score his second goal, a record-breaking conquest and the Miami game-winner over his former Atlanta club.

Franco Negri was sent off at the 84′ minute leaving the Herons to suffer the remaining minutes a man down, and suffer they did. The referee added nine minutes of stoppage time and almost immediately Atlanta scored.

Andrew Gutman knocked a header in past Drake Callender off a corner kick one minute into extra time for Atlanta.

Inter Miami would go into full Park the Bus mode and survive the United barrage to end the match and escape with the win.

Postgame Press Conference

Phil and his squad have won two MLS games in a row against teams that currently sit in a playoff position, Columbus Crew and Atlanta United. Miami has come out victorious using a new approach, and Neville thinks that everyone’s going to have to embrace it for the time being,

I think there has to be some kind of acceptance that at this moment in time, without the players that we got, we’re going to have to find another way of winning…”

Miami is winning by willfully conceding possession while forming a defensive block in front of opposing teams, waiting to strike like a cobra on the counter. During its losing streak, Inter Miami controlled the stats line, yet found itself down on the scoreboard.

Neville believes that the current cast of characters fit well with this method, gritty and spirited. The games will be ground out and not aesthetically pleasing but effective.

The main man of the evening, Josef Martinez had an interesting and somewhat philosophical presser, providing insight into his inner being. When asked how he felt about scoring two goals against his former team he said,

“It’s been one of the weirdest moments of my life. It feels weird, I just want to go home…It’s a feeling between happiness and sadness…”

The king deep down inside misses his former kingdom, the place of his greatest conquests. Make no mistake, he is committed to Miami and focused on helping the team achieve its objectives, but his heart will always have a fond place for Atlanta United.

Josef was very frank when speaking about the moment when he was going to kick the penalty for Miami,

” I was very nervous..”

It is refreshing to hear an MLS goal-scoring legend admit nervousness, to allow others to know there are vulnerabilities and that he is human too. The young players listening can identify with him and understand that even the best feel butterflies, but they overcome them.

I asked Josef how he felt physically because he looked more like his former self on his second goal of the evening. He made a quick diagonal dash showing his speed and mischief in sneaking the ball past the Atlanta goalkeeper. He simply explained how hard it is to come into a game in the second half and be a difference-maker.

It seems that Miami is getting an older and wiser Josef, the birth of his baby boy has humbled and matured him. Josef is in a different stage in his life than when he was with Atlanta United. Regardless, this version of Martinez is also all about winning games, and if he can continue scoring goals he will help Miami do just that.

Final Thoughts

Inter Miami CF has won two consecutive MLS matches against current playoff position teams, while also defeating a very tough Miami FC squad in penalties for the US Open Cup. The team has done it by shifting its playing style to focus on locking opponents down and then striking efficiently on its opportunities.

While it may not be the most pleasing brand of football it has proven effective for Inter Miami. The outcome has justified the means for Miami and until the summer transfer market brings a certain superstar midfielder, they will have to continue to make do.

Leonardo Campana is beginning to show the form that endeared him to Inter Miami fans, scoring goals and helping in the build-up of play. Campana needs to excel and have a fantastic season for the Herons to have the possibility to surprise people. He cannot suffer any more injuries.

Benjamin Cremaschi is so important to Phil’s new approach because of the energy and intensity he provides during his time on the pitch. He plays an attacking midfield role often in Phil’s schemes but really is all over the pitch helping out defensively. Few midfielders in the world take part in the attacking phase and the defensive side of the ball with the ferocity the young star does.

David Ruiz made his first start and did not disappoint. Ruiz, along with Cremaschi, seems destined for special things for the Herons. They are both making the most of the opportunities provided to them.

Phil and the team continue to battle and believe in each other, and as I said at one point last season, a team with faith is a dangerous team. Don’t stop believing! Hold on to that feeling!


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