MARIETTA, Ga. — Josef Martinez scored a historic goal Friday night in Orlando City Stadium against Atlanta United’s biggest rival, ripping off his shirt and celebrating his record-breaker with the enthusiasm and flair that the moment deserved.
But five days removed from setting the MLS single-season goalscoring record, Martinez is trying to leave it all in the rearview mirror as the team continues its four-game road stretch with an important match ahead against D.C. United on Sunday (7:30 pm ET | FS1 - Full TV & streaming info).
“It doesn't mean anything,” Martinez said bluntly after training Wednesday. “It's not like I get an award for it. Those are just numbers. The only thing that matters to me is winning.”
This is all par for the course for Martinez, who has said many times that he’s simply fulfilling his obligation to the team by finishing the chances that his teammates create. Media members joked with Michael Parkhurst following Wednesday’s session that since his teammates are so important to his success, maybe they could split the MLS MVP trophy with Martinez if he wins it?
“More importantly the bonus,” Parkhurst said laughing, before lavishing Martinez with praise for his work ethic.
“He's a striker who understands what his job is, and that's to score goals and be in the box," the Atlanta defender added. "I think that some forwards sometimes get a little anxious to be on the ball and they drop off 20 yards from goal to get some touches and be involved in the link-up play. That's not Josef. He stays between the center backs—where it's difficult and he's playing 2v1 most of the game—and he's not scared of that responsibility. He understands that when he makes runs, he makes them hard and goes all out every time.”
The more you give a king , the more he wants 😡 pic.twitter.com/4EgZeOqtOV— Josef Martinez (@JosefMartinez17) August 28, 2018
Playing like that, it’s hard to determine how high Martinez's record goal-total could reach this season. But when asked if there's a certain number that might make the record unbreakable, Martinez only joked about the team's lunch time.
"Twelve-thirty because I'm hungry," he said. "That's the only number I'm thinking about."
With eight games left, there's also the question about possibly resting Martinez leading into the playoffs. But when Tata Martino was asked about that earlier this month after a Martinez brace against Toronto, the Atlanta manager said: “He can rest on December 10th" — two days after the MLS Cup.
Before Atlanta's championship quest, Martinez will square off this weekend against a player in Wayne Rooney who exuded a similar playing style to Martínez in his younger days at Manchester United, charging into the penalty area with only one intention: to put the ball in the back of the net.
Does Martinez see any similarities between himself and his opponent this weekend?
“No,” the Venezuelan striker smirked. “I’m Josef.”