Josef Martinez led MLS in goals last season.

Can Atlanta United’s Martinez break MLS scoring record?

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez has scored 50 goals in his first two seasons in MLS.

The career record for goals in the league is 145, set by Landon Donovan.

On Wednesday, Martinez and Atlanta United agreed to a contract extension that could keep him wearing the Five Stripes through the 2023 season.

Some quick math:

If Martinez averages 25 goals per season for the next five seasons, he will destroy Donovan’s record by totaling 175 goals.

After a loud exhale that came after he was asked if he could break the mark, Martinez said:  “I don’t know. I just know I’m going to keep working hard. I set the bar pretty high these past two years. We know this year will be different. New season. New start. New challenges. I’ll work really hard to try to get to that number.”

Scoring proficiently with his right foot, left foot or head, Martinez already owns the regular-season scoring record (31 goals) and the total season (35), hat tricks (3) in a single season and in a career (6). 

Atlanta United President Darren Eales said Martinez is one of the best finishers he has ever seen, describing it as like finding gold dust in the world of soccer.

“Our hope is that we will be a top team and creating chances for Josef,” Eales said.

Martinez became so prolific last year in shattering the previous single-season record of 27 goals that Eales said it’s surprising when he does miss. Martinez’s 31 goals were scored on 97 shots, 56 on goals. It’s an absurd rate of accuracy. He averages 0.93 goals per game and 1.04 goals per 90 minutes in MLS regular season play through 54 games, each of which are the best in league history. 

“It’s really difficult to find someone who has scored the goals that Josef has,” Eales said.

The record may not be 145, should Martinez mount a challenge. San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski has 144 and has yet to retire.

Still, if Martinez can stay healthy, which he said was key to last season’s success, it seems that he will have a chance to achieve the record.

“My mentality is always to score, always to help out,” he said. “That’s not going to change. Not every year is the same. You won’t always score as many goals as lasts year, but hopefully I can this year.”

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