Josef Martinez: His rise from El Combate to become a MLS idol

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Editorial (August 27, 2018) – We all have heard stories about people who achieve greatness after a going through a difficult heartbreaking path. Of course, Josef Martinez has one such a story.

Josef Martinez: His rise from El Combate to the United States

The 26-year-old Venezuelan born striker has a lot to thank in his career and life.

Martinez is native from Valencia, a city two hours away from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. Back in his youth, the striker found out soccer is what he wanted to do when he grew up.

Early years

Martinez was raised in El Combate, a very poor neighborhood where the crime and murder rate are very high. El Combate is on the south side of Valencia, where most of the poor people of the city live: the malnutrition is severe, the shortage of food and goods is worse than any other part of the region, and the hospitals have no medicines for patients.

El Combate is one of many examples of the economic situation of Venezuela, a country affected by the corruption and mismanagement.

Well, Josef, who grew up in one of the most difficult places to live, has just set the MLS record for the most goals scored in a single-season. From an early young age, Martinez excels at soccer. Playing in his local neighborhood was nothing to him as he was by far ahead of the rest.

The takeoff

Martinez’s talent did not pass unnoticed and in 2010 at 16 years of age, he debuted for Caracas FC, the best team in the country at the moment, in the Venezuelan first division.

Two years later he moved to Europe to play for BSC Young Boys in the Swiss Super League, after one season he played for FC Thun on loan before his big signing in Italy’s Serie A with Torino. However, the three years Martinez played in Italy did not go as expected, he did not shined and eventually, he wasn’t getting much playing time.

When everyone thought Martinez’s career was a bust, the Venezuelan try to redeem himself in a different league. That’s when MLS appeared. The rest is history.

The U.S. Dream

Martinez arrived at Atlanta United FC in 2017 in hopes to help the team win; the club will never regret this decision. Martinez has rewritten the MLS history books in just two seasons as nobody can’t stop him from scoring.

The Atlanta’s forward scored his 28th goal of the season to break the MLS record for most goals in a single season over the weekend.

“It was a quick play,” Martinez added. I tried to shot above of the goalkeeper and I made it.”

Many Venezuelans attended the match at Orlando City Stadium to support the idol and witness a historic moment.

Martinez found a home in Atlanta, and he has not disappointed after netting 47 times in 48 games, including 14 in the last nine games, which is also an MLS record.

The Venezuelan has earned some milestones in the MLS in only two years:

In a league plenty of stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Villa, and Wayne Rooney, it is a guy from EL Combate who has seal the deal in the United States.


Martinez said he would have wanted to spend more time with his fellow Venezuelans after the game, but he thanks all of them for coming to watch him play and set two records at once.

“I’m grateful, I thank all of the Venezuelans who showed up, they came for a reason and I’m pleased with them. They always send me messages and I thank them all from all of my heart”, Martinez said, adding “I dedicated this record for the people in my country; this is for them, especially for the situation we are going through.”

Martinez has a point. Even when the season ends, it could be dangerous if he visits his family and childhood friends in Venezuela. There’s no safety in the South American country.

It is risky for athletes and other celebrities to come to Venezuela to meet with their relatives, the crime rate is just too high.

In 2011, the Venezuelan and Philadelphia Phillies catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped when visiting his mother, also in Valencia; and this year the 2012 MLB Triple Crown Miguel Cabrera said he has to pay a “tax” to a mob to avoid them hurting his family in Maracay.

That’s why it’s better for Martinez to stay away from his native country for a while, though, he always comes to Venezuela because of the love for his roots.

He never forgets where he grew up.

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