This past offseason Josef Martínez left Atlanta United after five seasons with the club to then join Inter Miami, a significant coup for head coach Phil Neville in signing the player who reached 100 MLS goals faster than anyone else in league history.
Arriving at Atlanta from Serie A club Torino in 2017, Martínez finished his tenure at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium with a goalscoring record of 103 goals in 144 career appearances. His last two seasons had seen Martínez require two knee surgeries but he was still able to produce solid shooting grades of 80.5 in 2021 and 77.7 in 2022.
The MLS MVP in 2018, Martínez was acquired by Inter Miami to, as head coach Phil Neville confirmed, replace the retired Gonzalo Higuain. So has he been able to deliver so far this season?
Shooting grade: 2021, 80.5 (position rank: 18th/90); 2022, 77.7 (23rd/98); 2023, 60.0 (58th/71)
Martínez has had a slow start to life for Miami in the scoring department, as he is still looking for his first goal for his new club. All of this may not be on his shoulders, as Miami as a team has only mustered six goals in five games.
Martinez has produced just 1.9 shots per 90 minutes, where in his previous two seasons he had produced 3.1 in 2021 and 2.8 in 2022.
This lower shot rate can be explained by how often Martínez is possessing the ball inside the penalty area. In 2021 he averaged 4.1 possessions per 90 in the penalty area, 4.0 possessions in 2022, and 2.4 possessions in 2023.
If Miami can get Martínez on the ball more in the penalty area, he has shown he can still produce at a high level in MLS.
Passing grade: 2021, 84.0 (3rd/94); 2022, 66.4 (27th/104); 2023, 68.1 (16th/85)
Martínez has never been known for his playmaking ability, but after a stellar 2021 he has struggled to find that same passing production. One metric which highlights the decline in his passing accuracy in his line-breaking passes completion rate.
In 2021, Martínez completed 100% of his 19-total line-breaking passes. In 2022, he only completed 43% and so far in 2023 he has only completed 50% of his four attempts.
Ball carry grade: 2021, 66.1 (17th/84); 2022, 68.6 (22nd/105); 2023, 76.0 (17th/84)
Martínez has shown some growth in terms of carries, dribbles, and tackle resistance — the facets which comprise PFF's ball carry grade — coming to a new team. The most surprising takeaway from these grades are the few number of dribbles Martínez attempts.
In 2021 Martínez attempted only ten dribbles, ranking him 30th out of 33 forwards. In 2022, he only attempted three dribbles, ranking him last out of 39 qualifying forwards. So far in the current MLS season, Martínez has attempted just one dribble in 337 minutes of play.