Josef Martinez’s first half penalty against the Philadelphia Union was his 18th goal of the season. To put that in perspective, the next three highest goal leaders in MLS are tied with 11 each.
The absurdity in stats doesn’t end there. The Venezuelan Viper’s 18th goal came in just his 20th appearance of the season, only the third time that’s ever happened in the league. Oh, and one of the other times it happened ... was when he did it last season.
Josef Martinez of @ATLUTD scored his 18th goal, in his 20th appearance.— MLS Communications (@MLS_PR) July 8, 2018
Just 3 times in #MLS history a player scored 18 or more goals in their first 20 games -- Martinez twice.
Josef Martinez, 19 G, 20 GP, 2017
Landon Donovan, 19 G, 20 GP, 2008
Josef Martinez, 18 G, 20 GP, 2018
Predictably, whispers of Martinez threatening to break the MLS single-season goal record are beginning to get louder. Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski, and Bradley Wright-Phillips all hold the record with 27 goals.
Julian Gressel told reporters after the win against the Union that he’s pretty confident that the Atlanta United talisman will get there in the end.
.”Yeah, he’s going to break it. He finishes his chances, it’s as simple as that. Today he was very good for us. Not just when he scored the penalty. He worked hard, checked back, and I think you could tell today that he really wanted to win the game.”
— Julian Gressel; Source: ATLUTD Quote Sheet
Josef would need 10 goals in the team’s remaining 14 matches to break the record outright. Barring injury, you have to like his chances at the rate he’s scoring goals this season. Keeping him healthy is probably the biggest obstacle to making that piece of history. Already this season, Josef has broken his hand and nose, yet has powered through both to lead the Five Stripes to the top of the Supporters’ Shield standings.
Buckle up for what should be an interesting final few months as Atlanta’s No. 7 looks to break into the MLS record books.