How Josef Martinez's record-breaking season compares to MLS' past goal-scoring kings
Last weekend, Josef Martinez joined Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter as Major League Soccer's single-season scoring king by netting his 27th goal of 2018.
After his game-winning goal in Atlanta United's 2-1 victory over Orlando City, he now stands alone top the MLS record books with 28 goals in a single season.
As if becoming the league's record single-season goal scorer wasn't impressive enough, Martinez has done it in 26 matches. His Atlanta United still have eight games remaining for the 25-year-old to extend his record.
To help illustrate just how dominant Martinez has been in 2018, ESPN FC enlisted the help of ESPN Stats & Information to compare the Venezuelan's campaign with the then-record-setting seasons from Wright-Phillips, Wondolowski and Lassiter.
The most effective way of doing so is via goals per 90, which is 1.15 for Martinez following his goal on Friday. Lassiter comes closest with his 1.05 in 1996; Wright-Phillips tallied 0.90 in 2014; and Wondolowski managed 0.81 in 2012.
And while the numbers bear out Martinez's efficiency, it's not as if he's padding his stats with meaningless goals either. His nine game-winning goals are second to Wondolowski's 11. He already has bested Wright-Phillips' six and Lassiter's four.
Martinez has changed games when required in 2018; his goals have put Atlanta in position to win with regularity this season. He has scored in 19 of 26 matches; only Lassiter scored in more games across his record-setting season. But Martinez's strike rate of netting in 73 percent of matches is noticeably higher than Lassiter's 65 percent of matches -- 21 of 32.
But perhaps the most striking statistic to illustrate the importance of Martinez's goals this season is Atlanta's record when he scores. Its 14-1-4 mark when he has found the back of the net equates to a 2.42 points-per-game pace. The Five Stripes are 2-3-2 when Martinez doesn't strike, earning 1.14 points per game. No one else comes close to having such an influence.
The New York Red Bulls went 9-4-4 when Wright-Phillips scored in 2014, for 1.82 points per game. They were 4-6-4 when he didn't, picking up 1.14 points per game. The San Jose Earthquakes were 13-2-4 when Wondolowski scored in 2012, earning 2.26 points per game. They went 5-3-5, a points-per-game pace of 1.54, when he didn't score. Lassiter's Tampa Bay Mutiny were 13-4-4 when he scored, averaging 1.85 points per game. They were 4-4-1 when he didn't, scoring 1.44 points per game.
Only Wright-Phillips' Red Bulls were as reliant on his goals as Atlanta is on Martinez's, but none of the league's previous single-season scoring kings can claim a higher points-per-game mark when scoring, and no team's swing is as drastic when their talisman was held scoreless as the 1.25 points-per-game swing that the Five Stripes experience when Martinez is kept off the score sheet.
Martinez's 28 goals are impressive, with the underlying stats further illustrating just how much so. And the numbers are likely to get even more awe-inspiring as his goal-scoring tally climbs in Atlanta's final eight games of the 2018 season.