Dec 5 (Reuters) - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez was named Major League Soccer’s most valuable player on Wednesday after smashing the league’s single-season goal-scoring record.
Martinez, the first player from Venezuela to win the award, earned nearly 48 percent of the votes in the polling of players, management and media after a campaign in which he scored 31 regular season goals.
The previous record of 27 goals in a single season was held by MLS greats Bradley Wright-Phillips, Chris Wondolowski and Roy Lassiter.
Martinez, whose team will play Portland in the MLS Cup on Saturday, finished ahead of team mate Miguel Almiron, LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, DC United’s Wayne Rooney and LAFC’s Carlos Vela, respectively, in the MVP voting.
Martinez scored 27 goals in his first 25 games, an achievement unmatched by any player in MLS history, and one that the league said was accomplished faster than any other player in the world this season.
According to MLS, Martinez’s goals-per-game average of .912 ranks above England’s Premier League Golden Boot winner Mohamed Salah (.889, Liverpool) and is just short of Spain’s La Liga Golden Boot winner Lionel Messi (.944, Barcelona) during their respective 2017-18 seasons. (Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto Editing by Toby Davis)