Josef Martinez scored three goals, two on penalty kicks, as host Atlanta United defeated the short-handed Philadelphia Union 3-1 Saturday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Atlanta (9-3-2) put an end to a two-match winless streak to remain atop the Eastern Conference. The Union (5-6-3) had their four-match unbeaten run snapped.
Philadelphia’s Haris Medunjanin and Alejandro Bedoya were both issued red cards for dissent by referee Sorin Stoica in the 19th minute, leaving the Union with nine players for the final 70-plus minutes.
Martinez’s hat trick gave him an MLS-leading 12 goals this season. He also equaled the league record for most hat tricks in a career with five.
Martinez’s first goal came on a penalty kick in the 21st minute, after Union defender Auston Trusty was called for a foul in the penalty area, which sparked the argument that got Medunjanin and Bedoya sent off.
Martinez extended the lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute off assists from Miguel Almiron and Mikey Ambrose. Almiron drove down the left wing and nearly reached the goal line before cutting in toward the net. His low cross got past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and found Martinez, who got a step ahead of a Philadelphia defender. It was Almiron’s sixth assist of the season.
The Union got back in the game on Fafa Picault’s goal in the 52nd minute, off a looping pass from Warren Creavalle. Picault controlled the ball behind the Atlanta back line and hammered a 10-yard shot under a diving Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Martinez helped clinch the victory with another penalty kick in the 83rd minute after Philadelphia’s Fabinho was called for a handball in the penalty area. The call was confirmed by video review.
Atlanta outshot Philadelphia 31-5, putting 10 of those on target. Blake was credited with six saves. Playing against nine men, Atlanta controlled the ball for 75 percent of the match.
Atlanta improved to 5-1-1 at home this season, while the Union dropped to 1-5-1 on the road. Atlanta leads the all-time series between the teams at 2-0-1.
—Field Level Media