Major League Soccer today announced Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez as the recipient of the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award. Martinez was presented the award during a ceremony at the Arthur M. Blank Family Office in Atlanta.
Martinez helped lead Atlanta United to the 2018 MLS Cup after his Golden Boot campaign produced 31 regular season goals to shatter the previous record of 27, which was held by MLS greats: Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter.
The Venezuelan international scored 27 goals in his first 25 games, an achievement unmatched by any player in MLS history, and one accomplished faster than any other player in the world this season. Establishing himself among the global goal-scoring elite, his goals-per-game average of .912 ranks above England’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Mo Salah (.889, Liverpool) and is in near reach of Spain’s La Liga Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi (.944, FC Barcelona) during their respective 2017-18 seasons.
Adding to his accolades, Martinez also established a new MLS career hat trick record after netting his sixth on July 21 against D.C. United.
Even into the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs, Martinez has remained relentless, breaking yet another MLS record for combined goals with his 31 in the regular season and three so far in the postseason.
Martinez, 25, is the first player from Venezuela to win MLS’ MVP Award. He is also just the fifth player in the history of major professional sports in Atlanta to win his league’s MVP award. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was NFL MVP in the 2016 season, while the Braves’ Chipper Jones (1999), Terry Pendleton (1991) and Dale Murphy (1982, 1983) were honored as MVPs of the National League of MLB.
For his stunning accomplishments this season, Martinez earned nearly 48 percent of the votes in the MVP polling of players, management and the media. Finishing in second place was his Atlanta United teammate, midfielder Miguel Almirón, who received 15 percent of votes.
The Landon Donovan MLS MVP award has been presented since 1996 to the individual determined by a poll of players, management and the media to be the most valuable to his club. (Miguel Almirón came second, followed by Zlatan Ibrahimovic)
All-Time MLS Most Valuable Players:
2018: Josef Martinez – Atlanta United FC
2017: Diego Valeri – Portland Timbers
2016: David Villa – New York City FC
2015: Sebastian Giovinco – Toronto FC
2014: Robbie Keane – LA Galaxy
2013: Mike Magee – Chicago Fire
2012: Chris Wondolowski – San Jose Earthquakes
2011: Dwayne De Rosario – D.C. United
2010: David Ferreira – FC Dallas
2009: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy
2008: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
2007: Luciano Emilio – D.C. United
2006: Christian Gómez – D.C. United
2005: Taylor Twellman – New England Revolution
2004: Amado Guevara – MetroStars
2003: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
2002: Carlos Ruiz – LA Galaxy
2001: Alex Pineda Chacón – Miami Fusion
2000: Tony Meola – Kansas City Wizards
1999: Jason Kreis – Dallas Burn
1998: Marco Etcheverry – D.C. United
1997: Preki – Kansas City Wizards
1996: Carlos Valderrama – Tampa Bay Mutiny