ATLANTA—Hometown favorite Josef Martinez of Atlanta United was named Most Valuable Player of the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, scoring for the MLS All-Star Team in their 1-1 draw with Italian giants Juventus at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, which ended in defeat after a 5-3 penalty-kick shootout.
"It's been a moving week here," Martinez told MLSsoccer.com's David Gass through a translator on ExtraTime Live driven by Continental. "I have to thank all the fans in Atlanta for the way they support us all the time and the wonderful experience in this game."
Martinez found the equalizer for the MLS All-Stars in the 26th minute, heading the ball across the line after a wild scramble that left Juventus 'keeper Wojciech Szczesny on the opposite side of the net, with Martinez charging hard to reach the ball before either of the two defenders attempting to clear off the line. He tapped it over as he left his feet, tumbling right into the superhero pose Atlanta fans have gotten used to seeing more than once a match.
"I'm a forward, so that means -- for me -- that I'm going to put my body on the line for every single play," Martinez said. "Whatever that means - if I have to get injured, if I break my nose, it doesn't matter; I've broken it twice already so it's not a big deal at this point."
The former Torino man demurred when asked whether there existed some extra oomph to a strike against a former rival club.
"I don't know if I had to, but it's always nice to score against a team you used to play against a lot, but hopefully the people in Torino enjoyed it."