Mon, 18 Oct 2021

Superstar strikers in spotlight as D.C. visits Atlanta

Field Level Media
18 Sep 2021, 03:55 GMT+10

Two of the better goal scorers in MLS history converge when Josef Martinez and Atlanta United host D.C. United and Ola Kamara on Saturday afternoon.

Kamara leads the league with 16 goals after scoring a hat trick in D.C.'s 3-0 home win against the Chicago Fire on Wednesday.

His seven goals from the penalty spot -- including two against the Fire -- put him two shy of tying the MLS record for penalties scored in a season. He's also two goals shy of his career-best 18 scored in 2017 with Columbus. And he could become D.C.'s first 20-goal scorer since Luciano Emilio in 2007.

If there's any criticism of D.C. (10-10-4, 34 points), it's that it might be too reliant on the 31-year-old Norwegian international. Yordy Reyna is second on the team with four goals.

"If you want to compete for the playoffs, you need a scorer," D.C. coach Hernan Losada said of Kamara, who has 71 career MLS goals since coming to the league in 2016. "In this case, we have Ola. Unfortunately we don't have anyone behind Ola ... so we depend a bit too much from him. But I'm very happy with his performance, with his efficiency."

Losada's team entered the weekend in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, Atlanta (8-7-9, 33 points) holds the seventh and final playoff spot in a tight East race after defeating FC Cincinnati 4-0 on Wednesday for a sixth win in seven games.

Martinez scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season in the victory, bringing his all-time MLS total to 85 in 100 career appearances.

After missing nearly all of 2020 with a torn ACL, Martinez has now scored six in his last seven games. It's a stretch of play the club's all-time leading scorer couldn't have envisioned while he was rehabbing his injury over the last year.

"Six months ago, I didn't think I'd play again," Martinez said. "I'm so happy because 85 goals is not easy. I have to continue it because I want to arrive at 100 goals."

--Field Level Media

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