Josef Martinez set the MLS single-season goal record in 2018 and helped Atlanta United to an MLS Cup triumph.

By Avi Creditor
January 16, 2019

MLS's MVP isn't going anywhere.

Atlanta United signed Josef Martinez to a new five-year deal through the 2023 season, locking down the league's prolific most valuable player after a year in which he set the MLS single-season record for goals. Martinez scored 31 goals in the regular season in 2018, besting the previous record of 27 held by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips. He added another four in the playoffs–including one in MLS Cup–to top Lassiter's 1996 record of combined regular season/postseason goals in a single year.

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said in a statement. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

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The 25-year-old Venezuelan has 50 goals in his two seasons in MLS, a blistering pace for the efficient, dynamic forward whose marks of .93 goals per game and 1.04 goals per 90 minutes are the best in league history. After achieving those numbers under the guidance of Tata Martino, he'll look to continue that in his first season under new manager Frank de Boer.

“Josef is an outstanding player and I’m very excited to have him committed long-term to the club,” de Boer said. “As a manager, he’s the type of player you want on your team because he is intensely focused and you can count on him every time he steps on the field. I’m looking forward to working with him and to continuing the great success he’s had with Atlanta United.”

With one Designated Player's situation handled, Atlanta must assess that of its other two. River Plate star midfielder Pity Martinez has announced that he's going to join Atlanta, but in order for him to sign, the club must deal away or loan out Miguel Almiron or Ezequiel Barco to stay at the allotted amount of three DPs. Almiron has long been reported to be heading to Europe, but the club has yet to received a suitable offer that would compel it to sell the Paraguayan playmaker.

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