Designated Player earns award after five goals in three matches; becomes first player from expansion team to win award since 2012
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez was voted Major League Soccer Player of the Month by members of the media for the month of March during the 2017 MLS season. Martinez scored five goals in three matches, including notching the league’s first hat-trick of the season. Martinez is the first player from an expansion team to win the award since Patrice Bernier won for Montreal Impact in August of 2012.
Martinez, a 23-year-old Designated Player, immediately burst onto the scene for Atlanta, spearheading an offense that ranks second in MLS with 11 goals. Martinez leads the team, scoring five goals in the club’s first three matches. In a 6-1 win over Minnesota, Martinez scored three goals to help Atlanta secure its first-ever victory. A week later, Martinez notched two more goals against Chicago Fire in a 4-0 win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
Martinez’s run of form earned him a call-up to the Venezuelan National Team for 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. While on international duty, Martinez was injured on March 23 during a 2-2 draw with Peru. He was diagnosed with a left quad injury on March 28 and is expected to miss approximately 4-6 weeks.
Against Minnesota, Martinez scored his first career MLS goal three minutes into the match after being played through by fellow Designated Player Miguel Almirón. Then, Martinez easily beat Minnesota goalkeeper John Alvbage with a shot to the far post (Watch Goal). His second goal came seconds after a re-start, this time being played through by Yamil Asad. Again, Martinez was able to beat Alvbage after getting behind the Minnesota defense (Watch Goal). He finished his hat-trick in the 75th minute, again getting behind the Minnesota defense thanks to a through ball from Hector Villalba. Martinez then dribbled around Alvbage and slotted one into an empty net (Watch Goal).
A week later, Martinez continued his scoring ways, helping Atlanta take a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute when Martinez fooled diving goalkeeper Jorge Bava and finished in front of an empty net (Watch Goal). Martinez scored his second goal of the day with a left-footed shot from a difficult angle, earning him AT&T MLS Goal of the Week honors, and giving Atlanta the 4-0 lead in the 82nd minute (Watch Goal).
Overall, Martinez’s five goals rank tied for second in MLS, while his 1.72 goals per 90 minutes tops the league.
Atlanta United will return to action on Saturday, facing Toronto FC at BMO Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and will be televised on FOX Sports South.
MLS Player of the Month is voted upon by a panel of select national media members in a process conducted by MLS Communications.