Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez reacts after receiving the MLS MVP at the Arthur M. Blank Family Office Wednesday, December 5, 2018, in Atlanta. (JASON GETZ/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
Photo: Jason Getz
Photo: Jason Getz

Atlanta United’s finish in MVP voting may have made MLS history

Josef Martinez’s winning the MLS MVP and Atlanta United teammate Miguel Almiron finishing second may have set a precedent in the league’s history.

Just two previous times has a player won and a teammate finish among the top three in MVP voting. The first was the league’s first year, 1996, when Tampa Bay’s Carlos Valderrama won and Roy Lassiter was a finalist. The second was 2001 when Miami’s Alex Pineda Chacon won and Diego Serna was a finalist. 

It can’t yet be determined if Martinez and Almiron are the first 1-2 finishers as teammates because the league didn’t release the final voting results in its early years.

There have been examples of teammates not winning but finishing among the top three. Red Bulls’ Bradley Wright-Phillips and Sacha Kljestan did so most recently in 2016.

Martinez, who set a league single-season record with 31 goals, was named MVP on Wednesday by finishing with 47.93 percent of votes among players, clubs and media. Almiron, with 12 goals and 14 assists, finished second with 15.03 percent of votes.

“I’m happy, I’m happy for my teammate, Josef,” Almiron said. “The hard work he did paid off. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”

Saturday’s MLS Cup between Atlanta United and Portland will also mark the first time that MVP winners from consecutive years will face off for a championship. The Timbers’ Diego Valeri won the award in 2017.

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