The thing about elite goal-scorers is that they have a short memory. Or that's how the cliche goes, anyway. Not that anyone was questioning Josef Martinez's mettle.
Barely 15 minutes after scuffing a one-v-one, Martinez opted for the spectacular: A full volley, running across his body from an impossible angle. And that goal proved to be the game-winner for Atlanta United over FC Cincinnati on Decision Day, wrapping up a comeback 2-1 win, sealing 5th place in the Eastern Conference and another trip to the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
“I couldn’t believe it," head coach Gonzalo Pineda told media after the match. "One of the most beautiful goals I’ve seen. I think the execution, the angle, the way he placed the ball in the top corner, the moment of the game where probably we were not super sharp in the final third missing a few chances and then Josef coming to do what he does best, which is scoring fantastic goals."
The goal was Martinez's 12th of the season as he still works to find full, consistent form after missing 2020 with a torn ACL. He's appeared in 24 regular-season games (18 starts).
The strike may even be in contention for AT&T MLS Goal of the Year, which wouldn't be his first against Cincy. Martinez won 2019's Goal of the Year with a strike against Cincinnati as well.
"He proved why he’s Josef Martinez and why he’s so good," goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. "Those are moments you can’t coach or teach.”
Atlanta return to the playoffs after missing out in 2020 and despite a coaching change early this season, parting ways with Gabriel Heinze in July. Interim head coach Rob Valentino helped steady the ship before Pineda took over full-time and guided the club back above the playoff line.
ATLUTD will travel to face NYCFC in Round One of the playoffs.