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Atlanta United vs. Philadelphia Union, recap: Josef Martinez’s record breaking hat-trick pushes Five Stripes past Union

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ALL HAIL JOSEF MARTINEZ

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Atlanta United FC Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

An historic Josef Martinez hat trick and two early Philadelphia Union red cards powered Atlanta United to their first home win in three games as the Five Stripes stayed atop the Supporters’ Shield standings with a 3-1 win Saturday night in Atlanta.

The beginning of the game looked like we were preparing to settle in for just another nice, normal soccer match in good old Atlanta, Georgia before THE ENTIRE GOT DANG THING EXPLODED.

19-year-old center back Auston Trusty took down Martinez in the box and the Five Stripes were awarded a penalty, a moment that in most cases would merely change the game. Instead, it unraveled it entirely.

Captain (!) Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin both picked up two yellow cards for...whatever the heck happened there.

“I was scared s***less,” Martinez said after the game.

Despite being frightened to the point of voiding his bowels, Josef stepped up to make it 1-0 lead over a nine-man team.

Atlanta immediately switched from a 3-5-2 to a 4-3-3, but despite the attacking minded tactics, the Five Stripes couldn’t find the net against Philadelphia keeper Andre Blake. Atlanta ended the half with 14 shots and just one goal, struggling to create chances in quality positions.

Four minutes into the second half, the Five Stripes found a chance in a quality position.

The two-goal lead didn’t last long.

Cool.

Fortunately, Atlanta United controlled the game going forward. After another barrage of shots that failed to find the back of the net, the Five Stipes finally caught a break in the 83rd minute. A Union handball sent Josef to the spot again, this time sitting on a hat-trick.

The hat trick ties Josef with Stern John and Diego Serna for the MLS record in career hat tricks with five. It took Martinez 34 games to reach the mark, 21 games less than John.

“First of all, I’m just happy that the team was able to get the victory tonight, that’s the most important thing. It had been a couple of games since we won at home,” Martinez said through a translator. “Obviously when you’re able to score goals you’re happy to help the team so it’s time to enjoy the moment and then move on and get ready for the next game.”

Martinez seemed quick to pass attention elsewhere, but his manager appeared to be impressed by the striker’s accomplishment.

“I think 11 versus nine for that long of a stretch, it was logical that he would find some spaces and find some goals. It’s good for him that he’s tied the record and now the next step is to break the record,” Tata Martino said through a translator. “I don’t know all the exact statistics about his hat tricks and how he’s scored them but you have to score goals and that’s what he did. I’m not going to take any credit away from him [due to #GameState] for scoring that many hat tricks in only a year and a half in the league.”

By the time the final whistle blew, Atlanta had outshout Philadelphia 31 to five, with 10 shots on target compared to just one for the Union. Even still, Martino didn’t leave a glowing review for his side.

“I don’t think we played well. We didn’t play well 11 on 11 and we didn’t play very well 11 versus nine,” Martino said. “I never worry about missed chances. I just think that’s something you work on. That’s never a motive of worry for me. What can be a reason to worry is when a team is up two players and they’re not moving the ball from side-to-side, they’re not circulating it, they’re not taking advantage of the space that they have. I think that tonight at times we may have been trying to do things a little too individually rather than collectively.”

Atlanta returns to action on Wednesday in Kennesaw for a U.S. Open Cup meeting with Charleston. The MLS edition of the Five Stripes heads to the Bronx for a huge matchup with second place NYCFC on Saturday afternoon.