(Orlando) It’s 9 a.m. Saturday in the lobby of the CF Montreal hotel in Orlando. Josef Martínez still has his small eyes and his deep morning voice. He is preparing to join the group of players who will not play in the preseason meeting in the afternoon for a short training session. Just before, he has a meeting with The Press.
“Phew, it’s early this morning,” he breathes, smirking.
It must be said that the last days of the new CFM star striker were not easy. He traveled from Montreal to Orlando on Tuesday evening. Wednesday, meeting with the media and members of his new club. On Thursday, during a light workout for the CFM, Martínez ran. A lot. On Friday, the work of getting back into shape for the season continued, between his strong strikes which regularly found the back of the net.
But Martínez is not complaining about this heavy physical workload. On the contrary.
“Finally, I can train,” he said, relieved. It’s been ages. »
During our discussion, full-back Raheem Edwards is sitting in the next seat. He watches the Manchester City match against Everton on his phone. He celebrates when City finally scores an insurance goal late in the match. When our interview with Martínez ends, we take the opportunity to ask Edwards about his new teammate.
“What can I not say, man!” », says the friendly Toronto native.
The guy is a proven goalscorer who gets you that goal you need when you need it. We’re happy to have it.
“When you look at his first workout, you see he’s not at his peak yet, but he’s still very strong,” adds Edwards. You see how seriously he takes training. And that’s contagious. »
“We will fight together”
When CF Montreal announced that it had acquired this former scorer of 31 goals and 27 goals (in 2018 and 2019) in MLS, we also noted his more laborious last seasons, the result of various injuries suffered since 2020. Quickly , therefore, we came to the conclusion that if he fails to score as he has been able to in the past, the experience of this 30-year-old player could undoubtedly be beneficial for the young attackers of the club, like Sunusi Ibrahim and Jules-Anthony Vilsaint.
Edwards earlier spoke of a “contagious” effort. Martínez intends to use his veteran status wisely.
There are a lot of young guys. I have a little more experience than some of them. We are a team, we will fight together. I want to teach them what I know, and help as best I can.
Assistant coach Eddy Sebrango, due to his playing background, has a say in the development of the team’s attackers. He sees the arrival of Martínez favorably.
“For guys like Sunu, Vilsaint, (he can help them) with the timing of the calls,” the Cuban native explains to The Press. It’s very good, and in the box too. Just watching him and seeing how he does things will help them. »
There are young people, yes, but not only that. Matías Cóccaro has just arrived in a completely different environment from the one he experienced in Uruguay and Argentina. He speaks neither English nor French. On the other hand, Martínez, notably thanks to his stays in European clubs, speaks no less than five languages: Spanish, English, Portuguese, German and Italian.
“I translate for him sometimes,” he confirms. I know it’s hard when you move to a new country for the first time. If I get the chance to help, that’s my job. »
Obviously, the attacker is comfortable with languages. Does he plan to learn a sixth?
I’ve always wanted to learn French, so now is the right time to do it!
“I just want to have fun”
On their own, and with the addition of attacking midfielder Dominik Iankov, Cóccaro and Martínez have just completely changed the face of the CF Montreal attack. It’s not just the supporters who are happy about it.
“I want to run on the field with them! », says Laurent Courtois when asked about the subject.
“By default, that’s what you want,” adds the head coach, who wants to be able to “channel” the energy of his two new gunners.
These are guys you have to slow down, not push. There’s work to be done, but we’re very excited, and on the right path.
Laurent Courtois, head coach of CF Montreal
On this subject, Martínez agrees that “it’s only been a few days”, that he will “need time to understand” the teachings of his new coaches.
A patience advocated by almost all the speakers interviewed by The Press in the last days.
For now, with a one-year contract in his pocket with a one-year option, we assume the Atlanta United legend has made a bet that he can return to his former form. Is that what occupies your thoughts, Josef?
“I just want to have fun,” he replies. It doesn’t matter what happens in a month, six months, a year, I don’t care. I want to have fun and help the team win trophies. »
The conversation of just under ten minutes concludes. He gets up, cleats in hand, and walks toward the team bus.
“It’s so early…” Martínez says again.