Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez was given the Major League Soccer 2018 Landon Donovan Most Valuable Player Award, announced today by the league office. Martinez became the first player in club history and the first Venezuelan in league history to win the award.
Martinez shattered the MLS single-season scoring record with 31 goals this year, breaking the previous record of 27 held by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips. He easily won the 2018 MLS Golden Boot by nine goals over Zlatan Ibrahimović. The 25-year-old scored a league-high 10 game-winning goals (No. 2 all time), equaled the MLS record of nine consecutive matches with a goal and recorded his MLS record sixth career hat trick. He has scored a league-high 50 goals over his first two seasons and averaged .912 goals per game this season. In addition to his goal-scoring, Martinez also recorded six assists.
Martinez led an Atlanta United attack which outscored every MLS club this year and produced consecutive 70-goal seasons for the first time in MLS history. He was clinical not only at Mercedes-Benz Stadium scoring 16 goals in front of his home crowd, but Martinez also poured in 15 goals on the road to help Atlanta produced the most road wins (10) and points (32) in the post-shootout era.
His efforts helped pilot Atlanta United to a 69-point campaign, which tied the previous all-time record, and a run through the 2018 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs in which he has netted three goals in four matches, allowing him to claim the MLS record for combined goals (34) in a season.
For his stunning accomplishments this season, Martinez earned nearly 48 percent of the votes in the MVP polling of players, management and the media. Finishing in second place was his Atlanta United teammate, midfielder Miguel Almirón, who received 15 percent of votes. Martinez was also named to MLS’ 2018 Best XI along with Almirón, as both players received repeat selections after being named to the 2017 Best XI.
He is also just the fifth player in the history of major professional sports in Atlanta to win his league’s MVP award. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was NFL MVP in the 2016 season, while the Braves’ Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991) and Dale Murphy (1982, 1983) were honored as MVPs of the National League of MLB.
The Landon Donovan MLS MVP award has been presented since 1996 to the individual determined by a poll of players, management and the media to be the most valuable to his club. Below is a breakdown of the voting results for 2018.
|MLS Most Valuable Player||Player %||Club %||Media %||Final %|
|Josef Martinez (ATL)||50.00%||42.45%||51.35%||47.93%|
|Miguel Almirón (ATL)||13.95%||17.92%||13.21%||15.03%|
|Zlatan Ibrahimović (LAG)||8.14%||12.26%||14.41%||11.60%|
|Wayne Rooney (DC)||4.07%||9.43%||9.91%||7.80%|
|Carlos Vela (LAFC)||4.65%||9.43%||1.80%||5.29%|
|Bradley Wright-Phillips (NYRB)||4.65%||4.72%||5.11%||4.83%|
|Luciano Acosta (DC)||5.23%||0.94%||0.60%||2.26%|
|Ignacio Piatti (MTL)||0.58%||2.83%||2.70%||2.04%|
Atlanta United will play for the 2018 MLS Cup Saturday, Dec. 8 when it hosts Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (8:00 p.m., FOX, Sports Radio 92-9 The Game).