July 21, 2018 - Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez (7) makes a shot on goal past D.C. United goalkeeper David Ousted (1) during the first half in a MLS soccer game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Saturday, July 21, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta United’s Martinez is MLS hat trick leader

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez got a record, got a win, but he said he’s still not happy.

“I’m always mad,” he said.

Martinez may have been playing to the cameras, but he became the MLS all-time leader in hat tricks when he posted his sixth Saturday, giving Atlanta United a 3-1 win against D.C. United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Martinez accomplished the feat in 42 games. He was tied with Stern John (55 games) and Diego Serna (124 games). 

“Obviously happy for the record, but I’m also happy because we get the win today,” Martinez said. “Especially since we started the game giving up a goal, which is not how we wanted to start. But I think we played against a difficult opponent today. We just wanted to show what Atlanta is all about.”

Martinez leads MLS with 22 goals scored. He needs just six more from the remaining 12 games to break the league’s single-season mark.

Though still playing with a broken nose that he suffered while scoring a goal at Columbus -- and he thinks he re-broke earlier in the week --  he challenged goalkeeper David Ousted and won a header that resulted in Atlanta United’s first goal in the 30th minute.

“As long as it’s not bleeding, it’s fine,” he said of his nose. “As long as I can keep scoring goals, that’s all that matters.”

Martinez scored on a second header in the 54th minute. Though, 5-foot-7, Martinez has scored seven times with his head this season.

“I’m a very short guy,” he said. “I have to thank my teammates. I think maybe I have to grow a little bit more.”

During the week, Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino made a point of saying that Martinez needed help in the penalty box to attack the crosses the were being sent toward the goal.

“And Josef scored all the goals, so it looks like what I said doesn’t matter,” Martino said.

Martino said because of the form that Martinez is in, he just sits back, watches and enjoys it.

“If he was scoring all of the goals individually, but I’m pleased with the way he’s scoring the goals because they are coming as a function of the team,” Martino said.

Martino’s first goal was assisted by Hector Villalba and Miguel Almiron. Andrew Carleton, making his first career start, got the play started. His second should have resulted in an assist to Carleton, but his pass glanced off the head of a D.C. United defender. Martinez’s third was assisted by Almiron.

Martinez is the 21st player to score at least 20 goals in a season and has nine career multi-goals in MLS.

But the hat trick will be Saturday’s talking point.

“Surprised that he’s done it so quick,” team captain Michael Parkhurst said. “It’s unprecedented in the league. It’s a tribute to him and a tribute to the team.”

Career hat tricks

Player, number of games, number of hat tricks

Josef Martinez*, 42, 6 

Stern John, 55, 5 

Diego Serna, 124, 5 

Edson Buddle, 304, 4 

Mamadou Diallo, 74, 4 

Landon Donovan, 340, 4 

* - active

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