Atlanta United might be an expansion franchise but they are not wasting any time in showing Major League Soccer who they are and what they are going to do this season. They are going to score goals, and lots of them.
We’re only three weeks into the new season but Atlanta United have already scored 11 goals and have put six points on the board. They opened with a crushing 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls but have since posted back-to-back wins over Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire, winning those games 6-1 and 4-0, respectively.
While the whole team have been impressive from back to front, it’s hard to look past 23-year-old Venezuelan DP Josef Martinez, who has scored five goals in his first 262 minutes of MLS action – an average of one goal every 52 minutes.Embed from Getty Images
The striker is gifted with blistering pace and is ripping defences apart every time he makes one of his darting runs towards goal. He is helped by the fact Atlanta have built a squad full of creativity in behind Martinez, with fellow DPs Miguel Almiron and Hector Villalba both able to provide inch-perfect passes in behind opposition defences.
Take a look at his first goal against Chicago below. The pass from Almiron is perfect but Martinez shows great intelligence to stay onside before his composure allows him to round Jorge Bava in the Chicago goal with one touch before finishing into an empty net.
Martinez splits the defenders…https://t.co/TVibwDkFTb
— MLSclips (@MLSgamefilm) March 19, 2017
Fast forward to the 82nd minute and Martinez scored an even more impressive second in a similar manner to the first. His positioning is perfect, his acceleration is sublime and the finish is incredible. The three stages for the goal happen so fast but the young striker makes it look easy.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 18, 2017
He is splitting defenders with ease and it’s seemingly impossible for team’s to adjust. If you get too tight to Martinez, you risk leaving too much space on the edge of the penalty area, where the likes of Almiron, Villalba and Yamil Asad will wreak havoc, as they have already shown.
The single-season goalscoring record in MLS history is 27, a total that Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014), Chris Wondolowski (2012) and Roy Lassiter (1996) have all reached before. Based on the small sample of three games, Martinez is on course to net 57 goals in 2017.
Of course that number is astronomical and relies on Martinez staying healthy for all 34 regular season games, as well as keeping up his rate of 1.6 goals-per-game over the entire length of the season.
When BWP scored 27 goals three seasons ago, he did so after firing in just one in the first seven games of the season. Martinez is already on five and will continue to put big numbers up until defenders try and find a way to somehow stop him shredding them through the middle.
Don’t be surprised to see him become the first player to reach 28 goals in a regular season campaign this year.