The newly-introduced franchise Atlanta United have set a new benchmark in Major League Soccer, after emphatically defeating Portland Timbers in the MLS Cup final in December.
The catalyst to their success has been the talismanic Venezuelan international Josef Martinez, who has achieved unprecedented success in the United States.
For those unfamiliar with the MLS, his name may not ring a bell. But he’s undisputedly one of the greatest ever forwards ever to play in the United States and he’s proven his quality with an illustrious goal scoring record.
After just two seasons at Atlanta United, Josef Martinez has scored an incredible 55 goals in 61 appearances and was voted the MLS Most Valuable Player of the Year for his performances in the 2018 campaign, but his introduction to the professional game was from straightforward..
Hardship in Europe
Despite flourishing at Atlanta United, Martinez struggled to adjust to life in Italy during the early stages of his professional career. Martinez was scouted by Swiss outfit BSC Young Boys during his two-year spell with Venezuelan club Caracas, but Torino quickly swooped to lure him to Italy following his inspiring performances for fellow Swiss club FC Thun on a season-long loan.
His move to the Turin-based club had the undesired effect and Martinez concluded an underwhelming three-year spell with a mere seven goals in 58 appearances. He quickly acknowledged that the writing was on the wall and packed his bags for a new adventure with Atlanta United.
Martinez needed to rediscover his goal scoring touch and he started in perfect fashion by scoring five goals in his opening three appearances in the United States. Although Atlanta United originally signed him on a season-long loan with an option to buy, they quickly signed him on a permanent basis and would never look back!
Injuries marred his debut season at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but he was still able to take home the Player of the Month award in his first month and earn a place in the MLS Best XI after finishing the campaign with 20 goals in 20 appearances. It was a spectacular year for the Venezuelan, but the Atlanta United supporters had yet to be treated to his maximum potential…
2018: The Pinnacle of his Powers