Josef Martinez's record-breaking 2018 may still culminate in an MLS Cup victory for Atlanta United, but the Venezuelan forward has already earned individual recognition as the league's Most Valuable Player.
MLS announced Martinez as the MVP award winner on Wednesday after the forward smashed the league's record for goals during the regular season while winning the Golden Boot by a nine-goal margin over second-place Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The forward scored 31 goals this year, breaking the previous record of 27, shared by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
Additionally, Martinez equaled the MLS record of nine consecutive matches with a goal and recorded his MLS-record sixth career hat trick in 2018.
Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) December 5, 2018
Martinez won the vote in lopsided fashion, capturing 50 percent of the player vote, 42.45 percent of votes from club officials and 51.35 percent of media votes for a total of 47.93 percent.
In second place was Martinez's teammate Miguel Almiron, who earned 15 percent of the total vote while Zlatan Ibrahimovic earned 11.6 percent. Wayne Rooney and Carlos Vela rounded out the top five vote-getters.
Martinez is the first Venezuelan player to win MVP and the eighth South American player to be recognized as the league's top player.
With Martinez leading the line, Atlanta finished on 69 points, good for second in the Eastern Conference behind the New York Red Bulls.
The second-year club beat the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference finals to advance to the MLS Cup after previously slipping past New York City FC in the conference semifinals.
Atlanta will now take on the Portland Timbers on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the MLS Cup final.