Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez breaks another MLS record

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez reached 100 goals in regular season and playoff games faster than any player in MLS history when he scored in the 94th minute of Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Red Bulls at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Martinez accomplished the feat in 136 appearances, breaking the record set by Bradley Wright-Phillips, who needed 159 games.

“I wish it could happen in a better way,” Martinez said. “But you know, it’s not over. There’s still a lot to fight for.”

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The record-breaking goal came on a right-footed shot into the lower right corner from 12 yards. It was assisted by Luiz Araujo and Thiago Almada. It was Martinez’s 108th goal in his 150th appearance across all competitions.

“I’ve got to thank all my teammates for helping me get to this milestone,” he said. “It might be easy to say but it’s not something that’s easy to do.”

It was Martinez’s first goal in his past eight appearances, but didn’t end criticism he is receiving from some of the team’s supporters. He has six goals in 18 appearances this season.

Martinez said people can think what they want. He knows when the team is struggling criticisms will be levied at those who are supposed to score, even if they have a bad knee. Martinez was referring to himself and the ACL surgery he underwent during the 2020 season. The injured knee also required surgery in Dec. 2020, and an arthroscopic procedure in April of this year.

“I’ve just got to keep working along with all my teammates,” he said. “We’ve got to keep going together and I’ve said it before but the the tree that bears the most fruit is the one that gets picked the most. So, but you know we can’t stop we’ve got got to continue to work.”

New York 2, Atlanta United 1

Manager Gonzalo Pineda has repeatedly defended Martinez’s form and decision-making, including a moment early in the second half of Wednesday’s game when he elected to pass the ball backward instead of to two teammates streaking open down the wing.

Pineda said on Wednesday that strikers go through periods where their confidence is tested. Now that Martinez has scored, he thinks he will start to score more frequently.

“Obviously, he needs a little more confidence,” Pineda said. “Then he needs also to go earlier. There were a couple of crosses that went in front of him and he needs to get there, for sure. But I think that will come in time.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2

May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2

May 28 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

August 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

August 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

August 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

August 21 at Columbus, 5:30 p.m., FS1

August 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

August 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas