Could a Josef Martinez one be next?
According to Extratime co-host Andrew Wiebe, the answer is a quick "yes" – as he celebrated the Venezuelan striker reaching his 100th career Atlanta United goal across all competitions in their 1-0 win over Inter Miami CF on Wednesday.
"I personally believe they should," Wiebe declared. "I’ve been to Mercedes-Benz [Stadium] many times, they have the real estate to build a statue and not worry about it being, ‘Oh, we have too many statues.’ Put it up."
Martinez originally signed with Atlanta ahead of their expansion season in 2017. He was mostly playing out wide for Serie A side Torino, but has soared in MLS as the Five Stripes' focal point in attack.
Co-host Charlie Davies couldn't help but marvel at Martinez's contributions, which are highlighted by a 2018 season where he won the Landon Donovan MLS MVP award and lifted MLS Cup alongside now-Newcastle United star Miguel Almiron. He missed nearly all of the 2020 campaign due to an ACL tear, though has recovered to lead Atlanta's up-and-down 2021 campaign.
"I think what you’ve seen from Josef Martinez is really hard to duplicate because he’s so consistent," Davies continued. "He’s always toeing the line and he’s just one of the most effective finishers I’ve ever seen. And I’ve loved Robbie Keane’s movement, I’m a huge fan of Robbie Keane – and it wasn’t until I actually saw him on the field that I thought, ‘Woah, his work rate, his determination.’ And that’s what you get with Josef Martinez, just in a different way. It’s always towards goal. His movement is always with the mindset of, ‘I’ve got to score a goal here, I’ve got to get on the end of this cross or this ball or make the right movement to open up space for myself.’ It’s incredible."
Davies mentioning the Galaxy legend isn't a coincidence: Martinez is now MLS' fastest to the century mark, getting there in just 125 matches, surpassing Keane's 100 goals in 156 games.
The 28-year-old's pace and longevity only fuel the statue argument, according to co-host David Gass. Through Atlanta's highs and lows, Josef's been a constant and steadying force.
"If, as we hope and we expect, he stays for three, four more years and they win more trophies with a new group that he’s still a part of and continues to be the face of a franchise that – let’s take it off the field, is more successful than any of us anticipated in terms of selling tickets and market relevancy and all that stuff," Gass said. "And his personality, his talent, his style, as well as him staying there has allowed that to happen. Because if he had left with Almiron and then they have the down years with Frank de Boer, there’s no face of the club, there’s nothing to build around, to build it back up, to continue to sell – and he was that."
But what iconic moment in Martinez's career would actually be committed to metal? Davies has an idea.
"Oh, you know," Davies said confidently. "It’s the kneeling, it’s the kneel. It’s the 'I’m King Josef, here you go.'"
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