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Atlanta United report card: Josef Martinez

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El Rey is next up in our offseason series.

Atlanta United FC v Philadelphia Union: MLS Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images

Josef Martinez

Position: Striker

Games Played: 29 (36 across all competitions)

Goals: 27 (32 across all competitions)

What went right this season?

It was another solid season for No. 7. While expecting him to match his record-breaking goal output from last year was a tough ask, scoring 27 goals isn’t a bad day at the office. He finished 3rd in the MVP race behind Carlos Vela and Zlatan Ibrahimovic so he couldn’t become the first back-to-back winner of the award in the league’s history, but he still has a shot at joining Preki as the only MLS players to win it twice.

There’s also this:

What went wrong this season?

It depends on who you ask. If you ask Martinez, he’ll say that despite winning Campeones Cup and the U.S. Open Cup, it’s that second straight MLS Cup that he’d have loved to add to his mantle. Ask anyone and they’ll point to his slow acclimation to Frank de Boer’s system that equaled just 2 goals in the first 7 matches of the MLS season. Eventually he reverted to the Josef Martinez we’ve come to know and love during his 3 years here.

Unfortunately, a knock just prior to the Eastern Conference Final against Toronto FC meant he was less than 100%, so we’re left to wonder if the result would have been different if he was fully fit.

What does he need to improve on?

As the face of the franchise and one of MLS’s biggest stars, it’s tough to point to something that Josef needs to “improve” on, to be honest. Maybe it’s his penalty run-up to account for goalkeepers who are already ready for it and can now adjust better? His slow start, which I mentioned, was more due to adjusting to tactical changes imposed by de Boer rather than his own doing. With both player and coach hopefully on the same page, it should be a strong wire-to-wire season for Martinez in 2020.

Grade: A-