It'd be difficult to find a player more reviled by a fanbase than Josef Martinez is by Orlando City. During his immensely succesful tenure with Atlanta United --- a run that saw the Venezuelan smash league records and win an MLS Cup title --- Martinez routinely tormented his rivals to the south.
The star striker played ten games against Orlando in his MLS career with the Five Stripes, and he starred in almost all of them. Martinez scored eight goals and provided one assist, helping Atlanta go 6-1-3 against the Lions.
Martinez is leaving Atlanta United after six seasons, finally freeing Orlando of its biggest nemesis. Except, the Venezuelan found a new home at the only place Orlando City fans hate more than Atlanta: Inter Miami.
"The Father," as MLSSoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe dubbed him, will be headlining Orlando's biggest rivlas and hoping to revive his elite MLS career with a club on the rise.
For Inter Miami, this is an excellent signing. Due to cap logistics in Atlanta, Martinez was able to sign with the Herons as a non-Designated Player. This gives Phil Neville's team a proven superstar in the league with the added flexibility to add even more big hitters to the lineup.
Martinez scored nine goals in just under 1,500 minutes for Atlanta last season. It was a strong striker rate, even as the Venezuelan no longer makes the same dynamic runs he did during his dominant MVP campaigns. Replacing Argentine superstar Gonzalo Higuain will be no easy task, but playing alongside Leandro Campana and a talented Miami roster should get the best out of a post-ACL tear Martinez.
The Lions will face Miami twice this upcoming season. Orlando will travel to Ft. Lauderdale in May before the Herons return the trip in September during the heat of the playoff race.
Intrastate matches always get circled before the season, but with a real antagonist in the mix the "Florida Derby" could finally accelerate into a genuine rivalry in 2023.