All the headlines heading into last Sunday’s match against the Columbus Crew had to do with Josef Martinez and his quest to break the MLS single-season scoring record. The prolific striker was forced to settle for tying the record at home, as he wasn’t able to find the back of the net a second time for what would’ve been his 28th goal of the year.
As disappointed as Martinez may have been to not break the record, an assist to Miguel Almiron in the 82nd minute certainly helped him feel better.
It hasn’t been nearly as automatic for the midfielder to score goals this season as has been the case for his Venezuelan teammate. Almiron had gone six matches without scoring and struggled to convert good opportunities to do so in that stretch, but his breakthrough against Columbus was met with great relief from the Paraguayan who took his kit off in celebration, followed by his signature Dragon Ball Z-inspired connection with Martinez.
“I’m happy Miguel got the goal because I think he’s been suffering lately,” said Martinez. “I don’t remember the last time he’s scored, but I know it’s been a while. I think he’s been feeling some of the pressure, so I was happy for him. I think it’s important for him to have the patience and perseverance to get that goal.”
Almiron returned the grateful sentiment with one of his own, as he told reporters on Tuesday just how much Martinez means to him, the club, and the city.
“The confidence Josef and i have with each other is really important,” said Almiron. “Josef is Atlanta. Josef represents Atlanta. Josef is breaking records and Atlanta United is breaking records. I’m happy for him.”
Perhaps it was Martinez’s pep talk, which he apparently gives to Almiron on a regular basis, that finally helped him score. It’s advice only a person of Josef Martinez’s ilk can give.
“I know how much Miguel’s suffered,” said Martinez. “I always tell him ‘Don’t force it. Stay relaxed. It’s like making love to your wife. You do it with love. Scoring goals takes a little love.’”