The Venezuelan striker bagged his sixth career MLS hat trick – a league record he now holds on his own – in Atlanta's 3-1 win over D.C. United on Saturday to bring his 2018 goal total to 22. That number is five shy of the current single-season record of 27, shared by Roy Lassiter (1996), Chris Wondolowski (2012) and Bradley Wright-Phillips (2014).
With 12 games remaining in Atlanta's regular-season campaign, Martinez would seem to have a great shot at not only matching the record, but claiming it outright. However, he was quick to deflect when asked by Univision after the game if the thought of claiming the record had crossed his mind.
“I only care that the team wins,” said Martinez. “Obviously, when you score you’re happy, but there’s no pressure. The only pressure I have is that we have to win. That’s all.”
Martinez was also quick to credit those around him for his unprecedented scoring rate.
“I think it’s the day-to-day work and all the efforts that have been made throughout the season in these last six months with my teammates,” he said. “I think we have a great group and we’re doing things right.”
After Atlanta fell behind early, Martinez got them back in the game with an opportunistic strike that saw him just beat D.C. 'keeper David Ousted to head home an equalizer. He then took advantage of a deflected cross early in the second half to head home his second of the night before taking advantage of a kind bounce and rounding Ousted to seal the hat trick and ice Atlanta's win.
“The last one [was my favorite] because as soon as I scored the second one I had it in my mind that I wanted a third,” said Martinez. “And obviously it was lucky, too, because the ball was right there. I thought of a lot of things when I saw the goalkeeper but that was what came to me in the moment.”
Martinez's heroics earned him a standing ovation from the 45,087 in attendance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and though he acknowledged the love he received from the home crowd, he was once again quick to spread around the credit.
“They’re giving it up to the whole team and everything we’ve done,” he said. “Obviously, I thank them [Atlanta supporters] from the bottom of my heart for the love they’ve shown me and the group. And this is for them. From the moment I got here I’ve always been thankful for it and they’ve always supported me. Past the result, win or lose, they’re always there. This is for them.”