Josef Martinez is the most prolific single-season goal scorer in MLS history and there is another milestone in sight when the Atlanta United visit D.C. United at Audi Field in Washington on Sunday.
Martinez set the single-season mark in Atlanta’s last outing on Aug. 24 when his game-winning tally against Orlando City SC gave him his 28th goal of the season.
A goal against D.C. United would give the 25-year-old Venezuelan forward at least one in 10 straight games, breaking the MLS mark he now shares with Diego Valeri of the Portland Timbers.
Martinez likely isn’t consumed with the consecutive games streak as he was still downplaying his record-setting goal when he met with reporters five days after scoring No. 28.
“It doesn’t mean anything,” Martinez said after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s not like I get an award for it. Those are just numbers. The only thing that matters to me is winning.”
Atlanta United (16-4-6, 54 points) certainly have been doing a lot of that and a victory against D.C. United will clinch a playoff spot. The Five Stripes are also one point behind the Eastern Conference-leading New York Red Bulls, who visit the Montreal Impact on Saturday.
Atlanta has won four of its last five matches and is unbeaten in its last seven (5-0-2) as it enters the match with D.C. United (7-11-6, 27 points).
D.C. United is tied for eighth place in the East and stands six points behind Montreal for the sixth and final playoff spot.
D.C. United have been shut out in both of their last two matches after winning their previous three contests.
Prized midseason acquisition Wayne Rooney has three goals and three assists in 10 matches with the club. But the 32-year-old forward is scoreless on 10 shots over the past three games.
The former Manchester United star hit the goalpost during Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to the Philadelphia Union, a setback filled with missed opportunities.
“We had chances,” Rooney said afterward. “Their second goal, that was the first time in the second half they got into that position, and a little bit of quality, and they punished us. We were maybe in that position five or six times, but maybe rushed the cross, rushed the pass.”
Forward Darren Mattocks and midfielder Yamil Asad share D.C. United’s goal-scoring lead with nine apiece, though Asad (ankle) is listed as questionable after missing the Philadelphia game with an ankle injury. D.C. United is 6-2-1 at its recently opened home field, while Atlanta United is a stellar 8-2-2 on the road.
Atlanta has notched a pair of 3-1 victories over D.C. United this season. Martinez scored four goals, including all three in a victory on July 21.
—Field Level Media