Life is pretty good for Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez right now ahead of the MLS return to action this weekend, including Atlanta's clash to kick off the slate on Saturday against Toronto FC (4 pm ET | ESPN - Full TV & Streaming Info).
Currently on 24 goals and still 11 games to play to break the single-season record of 27, we're looking beyond with this question: How many goals will Martinez finish the 2018 MLS regular season with?
We got answers from Senior Editors Nick Rosano and Ben Couch, Senior Host & Producer Andrew Wiebe, former MLS player Bobby Warshaw, national writer Sam Stejskal and contributors Charles Boehm and Alicia Rodriguez.
How many goals will Josef Martinez score by the end of the 2018 MLS regular season?
BOEHM: I’m not a math guy but here’s a few numbers: Josef is scoring at a rate of 1.12 goals per 90 minutes, and Atlanta United have 11 regular-season games remaining. So that means he’d score 11 or 12 more goals on his current pace. You could argue that his pace will slacken if and when the Five Stripes throttle him back to ensure that he’s fit and fresh for the postseason. Even at that, ATL play some of the weakest teams and worst defenses in the league down the stretch, including Orlando, D.C., Colorado, San Jose and Chicago.
Martinez is as relentless as they come, so I think he keeps smashing them in. I’ve got him penciled in for the serendipitous total of 33 goals.
COUCH: There are a staggering 11 games left for Josef to get three to tie. If he plays all the minutes and all the games at his current 1.12 goals/90, we’re looking at a previously unfathomable 38(!!) My brain just melted, but the dregs I’m slopping together feel like – given Atlanta’s likely focus on postseason prep and management down the stretch - this settles somewhere around 33, and American soccer gets a new magic number we’ll deem untouchable … until it isn’t.
STEJSKAL: Let's call it a round 35. Just over the one goal per game pace he's averaged throughout his MLS career.
WIEBE: 32. There’s no science behind it. It just feels right.
WARSHAW: I’ll say 30. I think he will break the record but ultimately slow down from his goal-per-game pace. I don’t have any logic to suggest why he would slow down, but the general rule that people/things revert to the mean is close to undefeated and I trust history more than my own eye, therefore I think Josef (only!!) gets 30.
RODRIGUEZ: Are we doing "The Price is Right" rules here? I'm going relatively conservative here, going to predict he hits the 30 mark but "only" hits 31 in the end.
ROSANO: The contrarian in me was very tempted to have him land right at 27, just as Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips did in their record-matching campaigns. But at this point, Martinez could sleepwalk his way past the record and I think he finishes his season with 30. My big question: is there any point when Tata takes a more conservative approach with Josef in view of the playoffs?