On Wednesday, Atlanta United announced the release of Josef Martínez, the former Golden Boot winner and Landon Donovan MLS MVP. The move marks the end of an exceptional run in Atlanta for the Venezuelan striker, a run that began with the club’s inaugural season in 2017.
At 29 years old, Martínez departs the holder of several club and MLS records. Here are some of the many feats he accomplished during his time at Atlanta United, by the numbers:
Known as a lethal striker, Martínez leaves Atlanta as far and away the club’s all-time leading goal scorer. In all competitions, Martínez has scored 111 goals for Atlanta United. Of those 111 goals, 103 were scored in MLS competition, including regular season and Audi MLS Cup Playoffs. This past season, he scored nine goals in 26 appearances and added four assists.
In 2018, the Venezuelan striker won the Golden Boot, the award given to the player who scores the most goals in the MLS regular season. That year, Martínez scored 31 goals in MLS regular season play, which broke the scoring record at the time. Then, he added four goals during the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs to bring his combined total to 35 and deliver Atlanta its first MLS Cup title.
Every Atlanta United supporter remembers 2018 when the club won the MLS Cup. It’s also the year that Martínez made a name for himself in MLS. That year Martínez won not one, not two, but three MVP awards: MLS regular season, MLS All-Star and MLS Cup. He’s the only player in league history to win three MVP awards in a single season. Add that to winning the MLS Golden Boot and Martínez’s season in 2018 ranks among one of the best for a single player in MLS history.
In just two seasons, Martínez became the hat trick king. From 2017-2018, he scored a hat trick a total of six times, the most in MLS history.
That’s the number of appearances it took for the striker to score 100 goals for Atlanta United in all competitions – and no player has done it in fewer. On September 29, 2021 Martínez made his 125th appearance for Atlanta United. That night, he scored the game-winner on a penalty kick to become the fastest player in MLS history to reach the milestone.
Josef's 100: Minute by Minute
A timeline of Josef Martínez's historic night.
As good as the 2018 season was for Martínez, the following season went almost just as well. In 2019, the striker scored 33 goals for Atlanta United in 39 appearances across all competitions, which made him the team’s top scorer in both MLS and Concacaf Champions League. In league play, Martínez scored 27 goals and four assists, good enough to finish third in both MVP voting and the Golden Boot race.
Also in 2019, Martínez went on a run and scored in 15 consecutive matches from May 14 to September 18. That streak is an MLS record. At the time, it also tied for the second-longest scoring streak in world soccer since MLS began play in 1996. (Only superstar and World Cup champion Lionel Messi boasted a longer streak when he scored in 21 consecutive league games for FC Barcelona from 2013-14.)
Fifteen not only indicates the number of consecutive matches that Martínez scored in. The striker also scored more than 15 goals in a single season three consecutive time (2017, 2018, 2019), a mark that puts him in elite company with just seven other MLS players.
Among some of Martínez’s streaks includes the most goals scored in a three-season span in MLS history. From 2017 to 2019, the striker scored a total of 77 goals.
Two of Martínez’s goals for Atlanta United won AT&T Goal of the Year. The first was in 2019 when Martínez outfoxed the FC Cincinnati defense to score in the 65th minute. Then again, the striker earned the award in 2022 with a world-class bicycle kick in the 54th minute. With those two goals, along with Tito Villalba’s in 2017, Atlanta United earned the award three times in the club’s six-year history.
Martínez’s career in Atlanta started at an impressive rate. The striker scored 19 goals in 17 starts in his debut season in MLS in 2017, the most ever by a player on an expansion club.
His individual awards at Atlanta United are impressive, but Martínez also helped the club win four trophies. He was part of the Atlanta United squads that won the Eastern Conference championship (2018), MLS Cup (2018), Campeones Cup (2019) and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (2019).