Josef Martinez recorded his first hat trick of the season, and host Atlanta United took advantage of an early red card issued to Vancouver defenseman Kendall Waston to beat the Whitecaps 4-1 Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Waston was sent off 13 minutes into the match after a video review showed a high elbow contacted Atlanta defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez inside the box.
Martinez scored on the resulting penalty kick, using a deliberate approach to get Vancouver keeper Stefan Marinovic off his mark and diving to his right. Martinez then buried the shot inside the opposite post.
Martinez scored twice in the second half off assists from Miguel Almiron and Andrew Carleton. He has four goals in his past two games.
Waston scored two goals in Vancouver’s 3-1 win over Atlanta United in last season’s only meeting between the two teams. Without him, the Whitecaps were reduced to trying to fend off waves of Atlanta attacks, with very limited counter opportunities.
Vancouver forward Erik Hurtado scored the Whitecaps’ goal, getting behind the United defense and beating Atlanta keeper Brad Guzan to make it 3-1 in the 85th minute.
Atlanta (2-1-0) got off 10 shots in the first half against the short-handed Whitecaps but found the net only on the penalty kick. Almiron, normally a reliable finisher, missed a quality opportunity and Martinez had a good chance on a header but couldn’t convert.
Atlanta put away the Whitecaps in the second half, scoring on an own goal in the 58th minute and tallies from Martinez in the 60th and 88th minutes.
Vancouver (2-1-0) has 18 road wins since 2015, the most in MLS during that stretch, but was hampered early by the removal of Waston. The Whitecaps had a good opportunity midway through the second half when defender Brek Shea found open space in the right side of the Atlanta box and fired a shot past Guzan, but the ball hit the post.
Vancouver returns home to host the Los Angeles Galaxy on March 24.
Atlanta gets two weeks off before traveling to play Minnesota United on March 31.
—Field Level Media