They train with him every day, but after Josef Martinez’s latest goalscoring display against Toronto FC this weekend, even his teammates were left scratching their heads.
“What’s he had, about two a game the past two games? How many games do we have left? Yeah. That’s 20 more goals,” Jeff Larentowicz jokes. “It’s astounding honestly. I mean, it’s the same guy. You look up, and it’s the same guy.”
After Saturday’s brace, Josef now sits at 26 goals on the season so far, just one off the MLS record, with ten matches to play. He now has 45 goals in his MLS career, the most ever for a player in their first two MLS seasons.
“It’s really special to see it every week,” said Larentowicz. “I think that he can keep going over 30. Then, you just hope he remains hot. He’s kind of like a pitcher. You just leave him alone in the dugout.”
“Josef is an incredible player,” added Eric Remedi after his first ever home start for Atlanta United. “We know as his teammates that if we generate enough situations he’s going to put one of them in. So, it’s just a matter of time if we just keep giving him service that he’s going to convert.”
Scoring goals is more than just a one-man job, and for every lethal finish there are countless touches, passes and movements that lead to that scoring moment. So Tata Martino says it’s important to analyze the system and not just the scorer –– and says you shouldn’t expect the goals to dry up any time soon.
"Look at Josef´s 26 goals getting 24 assists – analyze that,” Martino told reporters after the match. “He has big virtues, but there's also a play circuit that allows Josef to find empty spaces… Those gaps are created with our ball circulation."
“He won´t stop scoring goals,” Martino continued. “There's no way to neutralize a No. 9 when you have a team that supports our style of play. You look at FC Barcelona—you can’t keep [Lionel] Messi from making 40 goals per season, because there's a style of play that allows Messi or [Luis] Suárez to finish in the best conditions."
“You always hear about [opponents] and reading interviews, and it’s all about stopping Josef,” said Julian Gressel. “Well, it’s a collective effort. It’s this and that, but then, he scores a goal and everything’s out the window. He scores two goals and thanks for thinking about it. That just shows how good we are as a team to open him up in certain spaces and how good he is to make those movements and be lethal in the box.”
But for their part, Atlanta United’s squad is fully aware of this historic run, and are just trying to focus on playing their part to continue creating those goals, and making sure those goals lead to victories.
“We say it week in and week out, and he just keeps doing it,” said Michael Parkhurst. I hope he doesn’t stop. I hope he keeps going. I don’t know what the number is. If he can stay healthy and stay on the field, then there’s no doubt he’s going to break the record and hopefully score more than that.”
“It’s nothing new anymore these days,” Gressel said. “He’s just who he is. I think he’s going to keep scoring. It’s going to happen that he breaks the record.”
Josef and his teammates get a week off to prepare before kicking off the home stretch of the regular season. They host the Columbus Crew at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on August 19th, and tickets are still available, so make sure to reserve yours here for what could be a historic goalscoring night.