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Atlanta United's Josef Martinez crowned MLS MVP

By Alex Butler
Atlanta United's Josef Martinez crowned MLS MVP
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (L) of Venezuela in action against New York City defender Maxime Chanot (R) of France during the second half of an MLS soccer match between the New York City FC and Atlanta United FC on April 15 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Photo by Erik S. Lesser/EPA-EFE

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Atlanta United's Josef Martinez has been named the 2018 MLS MVP.

Martinez received the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS MVP Award on Wednesday. The striker set the MLS record for goals in a season with 31 scores this season, passing the previous mark of 27. Atlanta scored a league-high 70 goals this season.

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"Two years ago I didn't have the simplest notion of what would happen," Martinez said in his acceptance speech. "Thankfully because of some good friends, especially Sebastian's father who is no longer with us ... He was the first person to tell us things would go well."

"I'm thankful because I never expected this.

Martinez is Atlanta's all-time leading goal-scorer with 50 goals in his two seasons. He was a finalist for the 2017 MLS Newcomer of the Year.

He won the award over second-place Miguel Almiron, his teammate at United. Zlatan Ibrahimovic placed third, ahead of Wayne Rooney, Carlos Vela, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luciano Acosta and Ignacio Piatti.

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Martinez also claimed the 2018 MLS Golden Boot, edging Ibrahimovic by nine goals.

Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri won the award last season.

United won the Eastern Conference and faces the Timbers in the MLS CUP Final at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

"Let's hope that next year we can give it all we have so that we can beat what we achieved this year," Martinez said. "And give it our best shot to have another one of these."

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