Josef Martinez - Atlanta United - Celebrates goal with teammates

ATLANTA—The fearsome triple scoring threat is finally back together for Atlanta United, and they’re better than ever.


The team's three Designated PlayersJosef Martinez, Miguel Almiron, and Hector “Tito” Villalba—now have a combined 20 goals on the season. With these goals alone, Atlanta would rank in the middle of the league in terms of goals scored, just behind FC Dallas’ 21 goals.


The pressure is always on the stars to produce, and in the case of Atlanta, they responded emphatically, as all three scored at home on Saturday night in a 3-1 victory over Columbus Crew SC at Bobby Dodd Stadium.


“The responsibility is on us to carry the team when things aren’t going well,” said Villalba, who scored his sixth goal of the season.


“I’m happy with the work myself, Josef, and Tito are doing because we work very hard every week in practice to help the team moving forward,” said Almiron, who is currently fourth in MLS with 8 goals.


He was also quick to point to the work of his other teammates, adding: “I don’t like the words 'Designated Player' because I think all of us as teammates are equals. Our teammates are working just as hard as well. All of our teammates show up to practice two hours early and that’s really important for our group to have that commitment.”


Yamil Asad is a good example. A top performer for the team, the 22-year-old notched his eighth assist against the Crew, which puts him tied for the most assists in MLS.


Atlanta is especially happy to have Martinez back and performing at a high level. He played the full 90 and scored Wednesday night in the U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery, and tonight he put the game out of reach for Crew SC after coming on a sub in the second half. Martinez now has six goals on the season.


“Josef is a fundamental piece to the team,” Villalba said. “I think everyone here saw that tonight.”


“It’s all good news regarding Josef,” said Atlanta manager Gerardo "Tata" Martino. “It was a welcome return because we’re a better when we have our goal scorer.”