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Atlanta United vs. DC United, recap: A bounce back win at home

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MLS: D.C. United at Atlanta United FC Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Josef Martinez bagged an MLS-record sixth career hat trick and Andrew Carleton made his first career start in a 3-1 Atlanta United win on Saturday afternoon in Atlanta.

It took eight minutes for D.C. to put a damper on Carleton’s commencement. A gorgeous counter attacking move ended up with the ball at the feet of Zoltan Stieber in plenty of space. Stieber finished for his fourth goal of the season.

The lead lasted for just over 20 minutes before The Venezuelan Viper struck for the 20th time this season.

Martinez now leads the Golden Boot race by eight goals. Tito picked up his fifth assist of the year on the goal.

Josef wasn’t done yet though.

In the 54th minute, a Carleton cross skipped off the head of a D.C. player and found Martinez in the box for an easy finish and his 21st goal.

It wasn’t quite an assist for the 18-year-old but he seemed happy with play, even if he wasn’t exactly sure how it worked out.

“I was one on one and I take pride in being good at those one on one battles and I just kind of...did some move and it was on my left foot -- I was a little nervous about it being on my left foot -- but I just kind of whipped it in and it ended up getting to Josef and Josef finished it like it always does,” Carleton said.

The goal was Josef’s seventh headed goal of the year. If you took away each of Martinez’s headed goals, he would still lead the Golden Boot race by two.

At least he would if he had stopped scoring.

With D.C. pressing for an equalizer, Miguel and Josef teamed up to get Josef a record-breaking third goal.

Josef now holds the MLS career record for hat-tricks with six in just 39 starts.

“It’s not every day you score three goals. I think it just shows the amount of hard work I’ve been putting in. I’m happy for that and I’m also happy for the fans who support us every match,” Martinez said through a translator. “Obviously happy for the record but I’m also happy we got the win today. Especially since we started out giving up a goal and that’s not how we wanted to start but we played against a difficult opponent today. We just wanted to show what Atlanta is all about.”

In talking about the team, Josef echoed a thought from Tata Martino: The game didn’t start the way they wanted, but the game never felt out of control.

“I think even though they scored the first goal we were always in control of the game. We even had a few chances to have scored before that point but I thought it was a good performance from the team and we were able to get a good result,” Martino said through the translator.

Although Josef was the star tonight, Carleton’s first MLS was well-received, but not without it’s missteps. At least according to him.

“For my first start I was pretty happy about that and to get the win made me even more happy,” he said. “There was no way that was my best performance but I was still happy with how I did. There’s always times to go back and work on your game and try to get better and better and hopefully you know, whether it’s next week, two weeks for now, the next time I play I’ll try and do better than today.”

While the fan base celebrated the club’s first homegrown player making his first start, the step into the starting 11 didn’t happen the way anyone would have expected.

Ezequiel Barco missed the game and will miss the next game against Montreal for off the field reasons.

“Ezequiel committed an act of indiscipline and that’s why he was not with the team,” Martino said. “I’m not going to say any more about his act of indiscipline, but he will be out against Montreal.”

Atlanta United remains atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with 12 games left to play. The Five Stripes head to Montreal to face the Impact next Saturday at 7 p.m.