“My main target is to score in every single game,” Giakoumakis said on MLS 360 after the match.
The 28-year-old isn’t quite on that goal-a-game clip, but he’s now scored 10 goals in 14 appearances (837 minutes) – the fastest rate in club history. Giakoumakis is also only the second player in league history to have that kind of production out of the gate.
Giakoumakis, who signed a Designated Player contract in February after competing for Celtic in the Scottish Premier League, is now tied atop the league with 10 goals, joining Dénis Bouanga (LAFC), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas) and Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC). But all three have played north of 1,000 minutes this season.
The MLS Golden Boot presented by Audi is very much another aspiration for Giakoumakis, who previously finished as the top scorer in Scotland with Celtic and VVV-Venlo in the Dutch Eredivisie.
“Every year. I mean, c’mon, let’s be honest. I’m a striker. It has to be in my mind,” said Giakoumakis, who was brought in to kickstart the club's post-Josef Martínez era. “It has to be in my mind first of all in order to give me extra motivation. Every single game I have to stay focused, I have to find my own motivation. That’s my first one. Whenever I feel I have to score in every single game, it means I also have to help the team more. Whenever I score, my team has an advantage. That’s why it’s in my mind always.”
Atlanta United are now unbeaten in their last six league contests (2W-0L-4D), with Giakoumakis scoring five goals in that stretch.
“Well, it's a really physical league. A lot of big bodies. I have to face every single game two or three defenders that they are massive, they are big,” the Designated Player said. “But it's not something that I'm afraid of. It's something I can deal with that and my main target is to score against them and whenever they walk out of whatever field is it, they have to think that they didn't do their job perfectly.”
On the horizon for Giakoumakis and the rest of Major League Soccer is the anticipated Leagues Cup, which likely means a first chance in his career to play against Lionel Messi, who could join group-stage foe Inter Miami CF by the time these teams meet in the group stage on July 25.
“When you sign a player, probably the best player in the world ever existed, it doesn’t matter which club in MLS, he signs for a club in MLS. It’s not my club, but I mean, come on. Let's be honest. It's an honor for us to have him in this league,” Giakoumakis said.
“I'm really excited to face him, it’s gonna be the first time. But we have to win and we will try to win. We will have a respect for him, but we have to wait this is the only target we have.”