Not even an injury suffered while on international duty could take the shine off of Josef Martinez’s first month in MLS, as the Atlanta United FC forward was voted MLS Player of the Month for March by a panel of media members, the league announced on Tuesday.
Martinez scored five goals in three games to power Atlanta to a 2-1-0 start before going down with a quad injury while playing for Venezuela on March 23 that will keep him out about another month. The Designated Player is second in MLS in goals, one behind leader Houston’s Erick “Cubo” Torres, who pushed past Martinez in the Golden Boot standings with a hat trick last weekend.
After being held off the board in Atlanta’s inaugural game loss against New York, Martinez struck for a hat trick in Week 2, scoring in the 3rd, 27th and 75th minutes to lead Atlanta to a 6-1 win at fellow expansion club Minnesota. He nearly matched that effort the next week, bagging a brace to lead Atlanta to a 4-0 home win against the Chicago Fire before suffering his injury while playing in a World Cup qualifier with Venezuela.
The injury is expected to keep Martinez out for a total of 4-6 weeks, putting him on track to return potentially as early as Atlanta’s match at Real Salt Lake on April 22 or in their home game against D.C. on April 30. Atlanta, who drew 0-0 at Seattle last weekend, will play at Toronto FC this Saturday (7:30 pm ET; MLS LIVE in the US | TSN4, TSN 5 in Canada).
The MLS Player of the Month award is selected by a panel of select media members in a process conducted by MLS Communications.