Best of 2017: Josef Martinez - Atlanta United
USA Today Sports

Best of MLS: The best individual performances of 2017

Some players are known for their consistency, and others break out for a memorable 90 minutes. In that spirit, here is MLSsoccer.com's selection of the Top 5 individual performances in MLS this season, in rough chronological order:

Josef Martinez: 7 goals in 7 days

Here was a case where an outstanding performance stretched out to three separate games. Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez had a terrific September, scoring in five of six games that month and four straight. During that four-match scoring streak, Martinez played in three games in a week, notching a goal in a 3-0 win over FC Dallas to open Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 10. He then followed it up with back-to-back hat tricks, against New England on September 13 in a 7-0 rout, and then in a wild 3-3 draw against Orlando City on September 16. It was without question the most prolific stint by any player this season, or nearly any, to be honest.

Patrick Mullins: Four goals in a game

For goal-scoring exploits, Patrick Mullins has Martinez beat, at least in 90 minutes of action. The D.C. United striker scored four goals on September 23 in a 4-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes. In the process, he became the 11th player in MLS history to notch four goals in a game, and scored his goals faster than anyone, in just 31 minutes. It may have been a difficult season overall for Mullins, but for one night, he was definitely the king of the MLS hill.

Lee Nguyen: Four assists in a game

What is it about September and spectacular performances? It's uncertain what was in the water around MLS stadiums, but here's another one for the ages, as New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen notched four assists in a single game in a 4-0 win over Orlando City on September 2. With that performance, he became the fifth player in MLS history to tally four helpers in a match, and finished third overall in MLS in assists for the season.

Justin Morrow: Defender's hat trick

Stop me if you've heard this before, but yet another remarkable individual performance in MLS came at the very end of September, when Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow scored a hat trick in a 4-2 win over the New York Red Bulls. That it came on the same game when Toronto clinched their first ever Supporters' Shield must have made it that much sweeter. While we've heard talk about Morrow not truly being a defender in TFC's three-man backline, it shouldn't detract from Morrow's position as a left wingback that he scored a career-high eight goals on the season. Hey, if you're hot, you're hot, no matter what position you play.

Zack Steffen: Pitches Knockout Round shutout on the road

In hindsight, it may be easy to see Columbus Crew SC as Eastern Conference Championship finalists, considering they entered the playoffs on a 10-game unbeaten streak, by far the best in the league to close out the regular season. But flash back to the Knockout Round, when they traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to take on the high-flying (and high-scoring) Atlanta United. Enter Zack Steffen. The Crew SC goalkeeper made eight saves in 120 minutes of regulation, and then added two saves in the subsequent shootout to lead Columbus to the upset win. Considering the attacking firepower on Atlanta and the hype of their new home, keeping the ball out of the net for all but a single penalty in the shootout was one of the most memorable goalkeeping performances we've seen in a long time.

Series: 
Topics: 

Toronto FC MLS Cup gear | mlsstore.com

Shop mlsstore.com for Toronto FC jerseys, shirts, hats, hoodies and more.


Atlanta United gear | mlsstore.com

Shop mlsstore.com for Darlington Nagbe jerseys plus Atlanta United hats, hoodies, jerseys, shirts and more.

Stay connected: Get access to breaking news, videos, and analysis from North America's best soccer reporters via "This Week in MLS" newsletter or using our FREE mobile app.