Josef Martinez is kickin’ it into high gear…
The 25-year-old Venezuelan soccer player has helped put Atlanta United FC through to the MLS‘ Eastern Conference final.
Martinez scored twice, including on a penalty kick in the 25th minute, and host Atlanta defeated New York City FC 3-1 on Sunday to claim the home-and-home semifinal series by a 4-1 aggregate.
Atlanta held the edge in the tie after winning the first leg 1-0 last weekend at Yankee Stadium.
Martinez, who set an MLS record with 31 goals in the regular season, was awarded the penalty kick after NYCFC defender Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was called for taking down Atlanta’s Franco Escobar in the penalty area. Escobar drove the right wing to the end line and then tried to turn around, bumping into Tajouri-Shradi.
Martinez clinched the victory with a goal in the 83rd minute off a pass from Eric Remedi, who lobbed the ball over the NYCFC back line to spring Martinez. His 15-yard shot beat Johnson just inside the right post.
Atlanta will play either the New York Red Bulls or the Columbus Crew in the conference final.