How many ways can it be said: Josef Martinez is scoring at an incredible, unprecedented rate in Major League Soccer. For broadcaster Kevin Egan, he’s the Venezuelan Viper, lightning quick and lethal, but for Miguel Almirón, his teammate is the “the goleador,” – The Goalscorer. Our Venezuelan striker just set the all-time career MLS record for hat tricks, with his sixth last weekend against D.C. United., setting that mark in a far shorter time than any of his competition. So it felt fitting to look deeper into the numbers to ask just how he’s doing it.
First, the jaw-dropping number: Martinez has scored 22 goals in just 22 matches so far this season. That incredible pace stretches into his entire MLS career: He’s made 42 appearances –– and just 39 starts –– and has scored 41 times in that stretch. In total, Martinez is scoring every 82.4 minutes, the highest rate of anyone since 2010, with second-place David Villa coming in at a goal every 124 minutes. That’s nearly a half of a match less per goal than a legend of the game, and the only player to score at least a goal per 90 minutes. He is the first player in MLS history to score as much as he has in the first twelve games, and if the season ended tomorrow he would already rank 12th all-time in goals in a season. Only 24 players ever have broken the 20-goal mark in an MLS season.
He certainly has an affinity for scoring in bunches, and it’s fair to say there is no one better at turning a lead into an convincing scoreline with a three-goal night. Josef Martinez’s sixth hat trick last weekend was not only a career record, it was also his third of the season, tying the single season record. Only five players have ever scored three hat tricks in a season, and one of them was Martinez just last season.
Any soccer player will tell you scoring a goal is more than just a one-man job, and Josef has gotten plenty of help from the team’s more creative outlets. Miguel Almirón has the most assists on Josef Martinez goals in his career with 8, but Julian Gressel’s pinpoint crossing is right behind with 7 assists just to Martinez. Tito Villalba rounds up the top three, trailing Gressel by just one assist with six.
Look at the roster page and you’ll see Josef Martinez comes in at 5’7”, hardly a towering center forward. But his incredible vertical leap has helped him evolve into the premier aerial attacker in MLS. Martinez has headed home more goals than any other player since 2017 with 9. He’s also ranked ninth in total number of headed shots, which means he’s not only creating headed chances at an elite rate, he is the most clinical in the league with his head.
Josef Martinez now has one MLS record in the book, but he has an opportunity for plenty more. As mentioned, one more hat trick sets the record for the most in a single season with 4. He currently sits firmly in control of the MLS Golden Boot race, leading the league in goals by 9 over his closest competitor. And then there’s the big one: Roy Lassiter scored 27 goals for the Tampa Bay Mutiny all the way back in 1996, and no one has been able to top it since. Martinez has 22 and counting as we approach the MLS All-Star break, and needs six in the final twelve matches to hold the single-season scoring record as his own. With history on the line, Martinez will look to ride his scoring momentum this weekend as the team travels to Montreal to face the Impact.