In less than two full seasons, Josef Martinez has firmly established himself as one of Major League Soccer’s headline names. With a phenomenal goal record under his belt, Martinez has seen many dub him as the best forward in the league, but could we go a step further? Is Josef Martinez statistically the best forward in MLS history?
Josef Martinez has provided countless crucial goals to Atlanta United’s surge to the top of Major League Soccer. In his debut season, the Venezuelan bagged 19 goals and 1 assist in 20 games. He could’ve perhaps added more if not for injuries that kept him out of 13 games. The 25-year old finished 4th in the Golden Boot race for 2017, despite being the only player in the top five to play less than 30 games.
In his second MLS campaign, Martinez has barely missed a step and continues the red-hot form he picked up last season. Through 15 games, Martinez has scored 13 times and added an assist in the process. His 13 goals have him sitting in first in the top scorer’s table, while Atlanta United sit in first in the Eastern Conference.
During his short career in MLS so far, Martinez has netted 32 times in 35 games, which averages close to a goal every 87 minutes. In those 35 appearances in MLS, Martinez has also recorded five hat-tricks, which ties the record for most all time in league history.
Martinez’s exceptional movement off the ball allows him to pop up in dangerous positions and finish when Atlanta need him most. For 2018, the forward’s xG (expected goals) is 12.69 and so far, he’s scored 13 league goals. The 24-year old’s nose for goal is unlike anyone in Major League Soccer currently, which is why his production should be looked at in a historical context.
It may be too soon to have this discussion, but statistically, Josef Martinez has made a case to be considered one of the best forwards in MLS history. He may not have the name recognition that past greats have had, but his incredible consistency and production on the field are hard to look past.
Martinez’s goal totals are obviously a long way away from the likes of Chris Wondolowski and Landon Donovan, but his lightning start to life in MLS has rightfully turned heads. There’s no telling how much time Martinez will spend in Major League Soccer, but he has already earned himself a spot among the great MLS strikers in history.
By the end of his career, he may not have the most goals in MLS history, but he’ll have recorded one of the best stretches of individual success that the league has seen in a long time.