Josef Martinez Outshines Wayne Rooney
In a match that could have taken on many headlines, it was Josef Martinez who outperformed everyone leading Atlanta United to a 3-1 win over D.C. United.
Martinez, who owns the MLS Golden Boot by a 10-goal lead, continued his domination of opposing defenses by adding two header goals and one ankle breaker to his league-leading 22-goal season. The sixth hat-trick performance for Martinez surpassed Major League Soccer’s current record in a season.
“I think that when one has the possibility to have someone in the kind of form that Josef is in right now all you can really do is sit back and watch and try to enjoy it.” Said Gaffer Tata Martinez. “These moments where players are at a very high level, whether it’s Josef or Miguel, they’re our players, and all we try to do is give them confidence and enjoy those moments. In terms of Josef, if he was scoring all the goals individually, it would be different and might be a cause for concern. I’m pleased with the way he’s scoring the goals, that it’s coming as a function of the team and that leaves me calm.”
Atlanta actually had to come back from a 1-0 deficit early when D.C. United countered quickly. Paul Arriola took the interception, and quick passes between him and Wayne Rooney finally ended with Zoltan Steiber sinking the shot on an outnumbered Brad Guzan.
“Obviously not good enough from our side of things,” Guzan said about the early goal by D.C. “To have [Paul] Arriola free as can be with no one remotely close to him isn’t ideal.”
The early concern would soon be put to ease as Martinez dominated and Atlanta’s defense quieted English superstar Wayne Rooney’s first MLS start. The 32-year-old striker assisted in his club’s only goal but never could create enough space to score himself. Following the match, Rooney looked ready to exit Atlanta as quickly as he arrived.
“I haven’t seen the city since we only were here for one day,” Rooney said about his experience in Atlanta. “It’s obviously a nice stadium so, congratulations.”
Hometown Hero Takes The Big Stage
Before the match, Major League Soccer social media went into a frenzy after learning Powder Springs native Andrew Carleton would make his first MLS start for the five stripes. Carleton assisted in Martinez’s second goal of the day that gave Atlanta their first lead.
With Carleton’s first MLS start coming on the same night as Rooney’s, one would wonder if Carleton took time to realize he was playing on the same pitch as a legend. Carleton instead thought of the night in a different aspect.
“You know playing against somebody that’s been one of the best players, you know, in the world is a really awesome feeling. But I think I was even more excited to be out there with Chris Durkin.” Carleton said. “Being somebody that I grew up playing with, you know we’ve been on the national team forever. It was a pretty special moment to be out there battling with him.”
Atlanta also faced a former teammate in Yamil Asad for the first time at home. Asad was loved by his former club’s fans as they cheered when his name was called during pre-game lineups. The 23-year-old striker was quiet offensively most of the night but his coach, Ben Olsen, felt he was beneficial in other aspects of the game.
“I think even when people expect Yamil to make plays all the time on the offensive end, but he gives you so much more than that” Olsen said. “his effort in connecting passes and his composure. All that was there, and again I just didn’t think offensively we were clicking enough to give him opportunities to score or set things up.”
By: Caleb Johnson