The efficiency of Atlanta United’s DPs

Just one other MLS team has gotten more goals from its Designated Players than Atlanta United this season.

With three goals in last week’s 3-1 win against NYCFC — two by Miguel Almiron and another by Hector Villalba — the total scored by those two and Josef Martinez, the team’s third and final DP signing, Atlanta United has gotten 17 goals and eight assists from its highest-paid players. As a team, Atlanta United ranks second in MLS in goals scored (24) despite taking the second fewest shots (123).

“We are very happy with how they are playing,” Atlanta United Technical Director Carlos Bocanegra said.

Chicago’s three DPs, David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger, have combined to score 20 goals and contribute five assists in the team’s 13 games this season. With their firepower, Chicago is in second place in the East with 24 points and has won four consecutive games.

Atlanta United’s goals have come in 12 games, with all of Martinez’s five-goal contribution coming in the season’s first three games. The 24-year-old, signed by Atlanta United from Torino in Italy in the offseason, suffered a thigh injury while playing with the Venezuelan national team in March and just last week resumed training with his club teammates.

Also of interest, Chicago’s three Designated Players have guaranteed salaries of $8.1 million in 2017 compared with Atlanta United’s $4.1 million, according to salaries provided by the players union.

Despite Martinez’s lengthy absence, Atlanta United has maintained a grip on its season and has a draw and two wins, while scoring eight goals in total, in its past three games with Villalba moving from midfield to striker. The team will play at Vancouver on Saturday.

Only in the past two games has Almiron surpassed Martinez as the team’s leading scorer. With five goals in the past two games, Almiron has seven this season with four assists. Villalba, the first DP signed by the team, has five goals and also has four assists.

“It is also a long season, but we have to give a lot of credit to the guys around them as well,” Bocanegra said. “We have had couple of good games in a row. Miguel (Almirón) is coming out of his shell a little bit. A few solid games back to back (are) propelling us forward but — this is what you need in this league is for — your top players to perform and these guys are doing that right now.”

The team could get Martinez back this week. He re-joined the team’s training Friday.

“He is doing very well,” Bocanegra said. “He is back in training, and it is up to the medical staff and our coaching staff to work together to manage his minutes. It is more about fitness with these guys when you are out for so long. It is just catching your wind. He is good. Everything else is good. It is just about getting him fit and ready to contribute minutes.”

While Martinez deservedly received most of the attention at the beginning of the season for his scoring bursts, Almiron has become the player to watch the past three weeks.

The 23-year-old, signed by Atlanta United in the offseason from Lanus in Argentina, was urged to shoot more by manager Gerardo Martino following the 1-1 draw at Portland in which the Paraguayan passed up two shots in favor of trying to set up teammates.

His three goals against Houston led to him being the MLS Player of the Week, and he won the award again this week .

Villalba, a 22-year-old signed by Atlanta United from San Lorenzo in Argentina, hasn’t had the same type of scoring bursts as the team’s other two DPs, but he has been very effective because of his speed and tenacity.

A look at MLS Designated Players

The key stats for the Designated Players on each MLS team this season:

Player Team Goals Assists
Miguel Almiron Atlanta 7 4
Josef Martinez Atlanta 5 0
Hector Villalba Atlanta 5 4
David Accam Chicago 7 4
Nemanja Nikolic Chicago 11 1
Bastian Schweinsteiger Chicago 2 3
Shkelzen Gashi Colorado 2 1
Tim Howard Colorado NA NA
Juan Ramirez Colorado NA NA
Federico Higuaín Columbus 4 4
Jonathan Mensah Columbus 0 0
Anibal Chala Dallas NA NA
Cristian Colman Dallas 0 1
Carlos Gruezo Dallas 0 0
Alberth Elis Houston 5 1
Erick Torres Houston 9 1
Romain Alessandrini LA 6 6
Giovani dos Santos LA 6 1
Jelle Van Damme LA 0 1
Ignacio Piatti Montreal 6 1
Kei Kamara New England 3 3
Xavier Kouassi New England 0 1
Maxi Moralez NYCFC 2 5
Andrea Pirlo NYCFC 0 0
David Villa NYCFC 8 4
Sacha Kljestan New York 0 6
Gonzalo Veron New York 0 0
Wright-Phillips, Bradley New York 6 0
Giles Barnes Orlando 0 1
Kaká Orlando 3 1
Carlos Rivas Orlando 2 5
Alejandro Bedoya Philadelphia 0 1
Maurice Edu Philadelphia 0 0
Fanendo Adi Portland 6 2
Sebastian Blanco Portland 1 2
Diego Valeri Portland 6 4
Yura Movsisyan Real Salt Lake 4 0
Joao Plata Real Salt Lake 1 1
Albert Rusnak Real Salt Lake 3 4
Simon Dawkins San Jose 0 0
Chris Wondolowski San Jose 6 5
Osvaldo Alonso Seattle 1 0
Clint Dempsey Seattle 4 1
Nicolas Lodeiro Seattle 3 5
Roger Espinoza Sporting KC 0 2
Gerso Fernandes Sporting KC 5 0
Graham Zusi Sporting KC 0 3
Jozy Altidore Toronto FC 6 4
Michael Bradley Toronto FC 0 1
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 6 1
Matias Laba Vancouver 2 0
Fredy Montero Vancouver 4 1
Brek Shea Vancouver 2 0

A look at MLS DP Salaries

Player Team 2017 salary Total
Miguel Almiron Atlanta 2,297,000
Josef Martinez Atlanta 1,041,310
Hector Villalba Atlanta 770,750 4,109,060
David Accam Chicago 820,938
Nemanja Nikolic Chicago 1,906,333
Bastian Schweinsteiger Chicago 5,400,000 8,127,271
Shkelzen Gashi Colorado 1,668,750
Tim Howard Colorado 2,475,000
Juan Ramirez Colorado 100,000 4,243,750
Federico Higuaín Columbus 1,050,000
Jonathan Mensah Columbus 844,000 1,894,000
Anibal Chala Dallas 333,000
Cristian Colman Dallas 385,000
Carlos Gruezo Dallas 731,500 1,449,500
Alberth Elis Houston 423,000
Erick Torres Houston 665,000 1,088,000
Romain Alessandrini LA 1,999,401
Giovani dos Santos LA 5,500,000
Jelle Van Damme LA 662,500 8,161,901
Ignacio Piatti Montreal 450,000 450,000
Kei Kamara New England 800,000
Xavier Kouassi New England 890,542 1,690,542
Maxi Moralez NYCFC 200,000
Andrea Pirlo NYCFC 5,915,690
David Villa NYCFC 5,610,000 11,725,690
Sacha Kljestan New York 787,500
Gonzalo Veron New York 500,000
Wright-Phillips, B. New York 1,635,000 2,922,500
Giles Barnes Orlando 781,250
Kaká Orlando 7,167,500
Carlos Rivas Orlando 375,000 8,323,750
Alejandro Bedoya Philadelphia 1,197,250
Maurice Edu Philadelphia 818,750 2,016,000
Fanendo Adi Portland 1,736,254
Sebastian Blanco Portland 1,075,008
Diego Valeri Portland 2,607,500 5,418,762
Yura Movsisyan Real Salt Lake 1,973,750
Joao Plata Real Salt Lake 400,000
Albert Rusnak Real Salt Lake 882,813 3,256,563
Simon Dawkins San Jose 800,000
Chris Wondolowski San Jose 800,000 1,600,000
Osvaldo Alonso Seattle 1,141,667
Clint Dempsey Seattle 3,892,934
Nicolas Lodeiro Seattle 1,743,429 6,778,029
Roger Espinoza Sporting KC 850,000
Gerso Fernandes Sporting KC 591,258
Graham Zusi Sporting KC 757,102 2,198,360
Jozy Altidore Toronto FC 4,875,000
Michael Bradley Toronto FC 6,500,000
Sebastian Giovinco Toronto FC 7,115,556 18,490,556
Matias Laba Vancouver 885,500
Fredy Montero Vancouver 1,800,000
Brek Shea Vancouver 670,000 3,355,500