Josef Martinez Wins 2018 MLS MVP

Josef Martinez
ATLANTA, GA SEPTEMBER 22: Atlanta's Josef Martinez (7) looks towards the fans during the match between Atlanta United and Real Salt Lake on September 22nd, 2018 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta United FC defeated Real Salt Lake by a score of 2 to 0. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Atlanta, Georgia (December 5, 2018) — Josef Martinez made MLS history in 2018 and has been rewarded as such.

The league named the 25-year-old striker its Most Valuable Player on Wednesday. It comes after Martinez shattered the MLS single-season record for goals in a season with 31. The previous mark was 27, set by Roy Lassiter (1996), Chris Wondolowski (2012), and Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014).

Josef Martinez Named MLS MVP for 2018 Season

Martinez spearheaded an Atlanta United side set to host MLS Cup just two years into its existence. The Five Stripes finished with a 21-7-6 record this season, tallying 69 points which were two behind the New York Red Bulls in the Supporters’ Shield race. But Atlanta knocked off the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals to get to where they stand now.

The Venezuelan is the first from his nation to win league MVP honors. He’s the eighth player from South America to do so and the second in a row after Diego Valeri earned the award last season. Martinez is set to do battle with Valeri’s Portland Timbers in Saturday’s MLS Cup final.

Martinez burst onto the scene in Atlanta’s maiden campaign in MLS last year. Originally signed on loan from Torino in the Italian Serie A, Martinez registered 19 goals in just 20 appearances which included 17 starts. His 2017 goal-scoring total would have invariably been much higher had he not suffered an injury on national team duty early on in the season. Not surprisingly, Atlanta made his loan move permanent not long after acquiring him.

In his 59 total appearances for the Five Stripes including the regular season and playoffs, Martinez has a grand total of 53 goals and seven assists. He has a chance to add to his legend if he can etch his name onto the scoresheet in a win that ultimately seals championship glory this weekend.

List of Previous MLS MVPs

2017: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
2016: David Villa – New York City FC
2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
2014: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
2013: Mike Magee – Chicago Fire
2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes
2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United
2010: David Ferreira – FC Dallas
2009: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
2008: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
2006: Christian Gómez – D.C. United
2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution
2004: Amado Guevara – New York MetroStars
2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
2002: Carlos Ruíz – LA Galaxy
2001: Alex Pineda Chacón – Miami Fusion
2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn
1998: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United
1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
1996: Carlos Valderrama – Tampa Bay Mutiny

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