Josef Martinez celebrates his 28th goal of the MLS season. (USA TODAY Sports)
ORLANDO — Atlanta United forward Josef Martínez broke the Major League Soccer season goal-scoring record with his 28th tally of the season in the 74th minute of Atlanta’s 2-1 victory aover Orlando City SC on Friday at Orlando City Stadium (WATCH GOAL).
With 28 goals, the 25-year-old Venezuelan is already tied for 10th worldwide among players who have completed their respective 2017-18 seasons, and Martínez still has eight regular-season games remaining to climb further up this renowned list.
Martinez’s historic goal was a cutback to split Orlando’s defense and a right-footed chip shot over Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik from 10 yards in the 74th minute to give Atlanta a 2-1 advantage.
“We knew he was going to break the record,” Atlanta head coach Tata Martino said. “It was just a matter of if he could do it sooner or later. The good thing is he did it sooner. Now this will calm him down. On top of that, he did it with a very nice goal.”
Martinez said the goal was “very special.”
“I’m happy with where we came to play,” he added. “I’m very happy because like I said last week, if I reached 28 I would be very happy, happier than ever. I’m happy to get the record and the three points.”
He is on pace to outscore international icons Lionel Messi (34 goals in 36 games for FC Barcelona), Mo Salah (32 goals in 36 games for Liverpool FC) and Harry Kane (30 goals in 37 games for Tottenham Hotspur), and he has already scored more goals than Cristiano Ronaldo (26 goals in 27 games for Real Madrid) and Luis Suárez (25 goals in 33 games for FC Barcelona).
His goals-per-game average (1.077) ranks ahead of Messi (0.944) and Salah (0.889). Martínez and Kane own the distinction as the two youngest players to have achieved 25-plus goals in 2017-18.
Orlando (23 points) dropped to 7-16-2 while Atlanta (54) solidified its Eastern Conference lead as it improved to 16-4-6.
Martínez and Atlanta United next face D.C. United on Sunday, Sept. 2 (7:30 p.m. ET / FS1) at Audi Field.