Josef Martinez Becomes Youngest MLS player with 5-Career Hat Tricks in 3-1 win over Philadelphia
It was a historic night for Josef Martinez as his fifth-career hat trick coming in the 83rd minute of the game led Atlanta United to a 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Martinez’s three goals not only gives him the MLS lead in goals scored this year (12), but he has matched the MLS record of five hat tricks. More impressively, he is the youngest player to accomplish that feat.
“First of all, I’m just really happy that the team was able to get the victory tonight. That’s the most important thing,” Martinez said. “It had been a couple of games since we had won at home, so we knew that winning the game was important coming into tonight. Obviously, when you are able to score, I am happy for the goals and happy that it helped the team. It’s time to enjoy the moment and then start thinking about the next game.”
Everything went right for Atlanta United, and the total opposite occurred for Philadelphia just 19 minutes into the game when both Alejandro Bedoya, who is the Union’s captain, and Haris Medunjanin received red cards after a controversial call that granted Martinez his first PK of the game.
“I think we controlled the game in the first twenty minutes. We dominated. Then, the ref decided to them the PK for no reason at all,” Medunjanin said. “Everyone saw that it was not a penalty. We are in this stadium with this crowd, and you get scared then whistle for the home team. That is what happened today.”
As for Bedoya being ejected from the match, Medujanin said the referee Sorin Stoica “didn’t even know that our captain Bedoya had a yellow card which is why he gave him another yellow card. I don’t like that, and that’s why I get mad.” The botched call is what ultimately led to Philadelphia playing with nine men for the remainder of the match. In the first half, Philadelphia was assessed five yellow cards and two costly red cards.
Surprisingly, though, Atlanta United didn’t necessarily take advantage of the mismatch. Yes, they secured the three points they needed to get back into the win column, head coach Tata Martino felt as if his club were not as aggressive once Philadelphia was down two men.
“I think it could have been physical. I think it could have been mental,” Martino said. “When a team goes up two players, one of two things can happen: you can score goals quickly and put the other team away, or you can suffer a little bit, or if not suffer at least make it difficult on yourselves, and I think that if this game had been eleven on eleven it would have been a difficult game. I have the thought that it’s even possible that we lose this game if it’s eleven on eleven.”
The Five Stripes were not as efficient offensively, but Martinez essentially prevented a meltdown from occurring. In the 21st minute, he scored his second goal coming off an assist from Miguel Almirón and Mikey Ambrose.
Philadelphia Union’s lone goal came in the 52nd minute by Fabrice-Jean Picault.
The next home game for Atlanta United is June 6 against the Charlotte Battery at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
By D’Mitri Chin
All Photos By: William Curtis