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Atlanta signs Torres with Martinez out for season

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Published in Soccer
Friday, 31 July 2020 12:09

Atlanta United made a pair of moves on Friday in a bid to shore up the striker position, signing Erick "Cubo" Torres and placing Josef Martinez on the season-ending injury list.

Martinez, the 2018 MLS MVP, tore the ACL in his right knee in Atlanta's season-opening 2-1 win over Nashville SC on Feb. 29. He underwent surgery on March 18.

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By being placed on the season-ending injury list, Martinez will not be able to play in any MLS competitions for the remainder of the 2020 season. Per MLS roster rules, the Martinez move allowed Atlanta to obtain roster relief in the form of an open roster spot, as well as salary budget relief up to $250,000 to sign a replacement.

Atlanta has struggled in Martinez's absence, failing to score a single goal while losing all three games at the MLS is Back tournament. That run of results led to the team parting ways with manager Frank de Boer on July 24.

"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," Atlanta United Vice President and Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said. "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."

In Martinez's place, the Five Stripes acquired Torres, who was out of contract after spending the last two years with Liga MX side CD Tijuana. Having played previously with two other MLS teams -- the now-defunct Chivas USA and the Houston Dynamo -- Torres is familiar with the league, and has the added benefit of holding a green card, meaning he will count as a domestic player.

"'Cubo' is a natural goal-scoring 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, was at one point considered an up-and-coming star in Mexico, breaking in with Guadalajara as a 17-year-old in 2010. He was loaned to Chivas USA in 2013, scoring 23 goals in 51 league and cup appearances over the next two seasons.

Following Chivas USA's folding after the 2014 season, MLS purchased Torres' contract, making him a Designated Player. He eventually landed in Houston, though his form was uneven during his tenure there. He went 23 league and cup appearances without scoring and was twice loaned to Guadalajara and Cruz Azul during that time.

Torres bounced back in 2017, scoring 14 goals in 31 league and playoff appearances, five of which came from the penalty spot. Torres returned to Mexico in 2018 with Pumas and later Tijuana, but has struggled to find success since. Over the last two years, he has scored nine goals in 45 league and cup appearances.

At international level, Torres scored one goal in seven appearances for Mexico.

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