Josef Martinez’s scintillating debut season in Major League Soccer has earned him more plaudits, as the Atlanta United star was named “Mejor Futbolista del Año de la MLS” (top MLS player of the year) at Los Premios Univisión Deportes, Univisión’s annual sports awards gala, held in Miami on Sunday night.
The Venezuelan international was the spearhead of the Five Stripes’ explosive attack, netting 19 goals in just 17 regular-season starts (20 appearances). Those exploits earned him the nod ahead of fellow finalists Diego Valeri and David Villa.
Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres was also prominently honored, as he and coach Hernan Dario Gomez took the stage to accept the prize for the Panama national team, winners of “Hazaña Deportiva del Año” (sports feat of the year) for their underdog triumph in qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup.
US national team fans will of course painfully recall that Torres ranged forward from his center-back spot to bang home the dramatic goal for Los Canaleros that beat Costa Rica on the final day of the CONCACAF Hexagonal round, which, combined with Honduras’ win over Mexico and the USMNT’s shock loss at Trinidad & Tobago, eliminated the United States from Russia 2018 while clinching the North American region’s third and final automatic spot for Panama.