Forward Josef Martinez broke the MLS record with his sixth career hat trick to lead Atlanta United to a 3-1 victory over D.C. United on Saturday afternoon at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Martinez topped the MLS mark of five hat tricks that he shared with Stern John and Diego Serna entering the game. The 25-year-old Venezuelan continued to make a mockery of the league’s race for the Golden Boot by registering his 20th, 21st and 22nd goals, 10 more than runner-up Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls.
Brad Guzan had two saves for Eastern Conference leading Atlanta United (13-4-5, 44 points) who moved four points ahead of New York City FC in the race for the Supporters’ Shield.
Zoltan Stieber scored for D.C. United (3-8-5, 14 points). David Ousted finished with six saves.
Former Manchester United and Everton star Wayne Rooney made his first MLS start for D.C. United and played 66 minutes. He had two shots, including free kick into the wall from just outside the penalty box, and picked up a yellow card. He also lost the ball at midfield before Martinez’s first goal.
Stieber gave D.C. United a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute with his fourth goal of the season. The Hungarian midfielder cut in alone from the right corner of the penalty box where he received a pass from Paul Arriola and fired a left-footed shot past Guzan and inside the far post.
Martinez tied it in the 30th minute with a controversial goal, heading in a crossing pass from Hector Villalba in the middle of the six-yard box and colliding hard with Ousted, who came out and attempted to punch the pass away. A dazed Ousted was down on the ground for a minute but stayed in the game and officials decided there was no penalty on Martinez and allowed the goal to stand.
D.C. United missed a chance to regain the lead just before halftime but Guzan made a point-blank save on Luciano Acosta near the right post.
Martinez gave Atlanta United a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute, heading in a crossing pass by 18-year-old forward Andrew Carleton that deflected slightly off the head of a D.C. United defender in the middle of the box right to the wide-open Martinez near the left post.
Martinez made it 3-1 with his record hat trick in the 73rd minute, intercepting a clearing pass by defender Steve Birnbaum about 15 yards above the penalty box and then deking Ousted for his 22nd goal in 22 games this season.
—Field Level Media