Ronaldo Cisneros filling void for Atlanta United at striker

Atlanta United forward Ronaldo Cisneros is seen after scoring against Chicago Fire FC on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Daniel Varnado/for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

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Atlanta United forward Ronaldo Cisneros is seen after scoring against Chicago Fire FC on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. (Daniel Varnado/for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Until Josef Martinez returns, Atlanta United may have found its striker in Ronaldo Cisneros.

The loanee from Chivas scored three goals, each showcasing a different skill set, in Saturday’s 4-1 victory against Chicago at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The hat trick moved Cisneros to four goals this season and atop Atlanta United’s scoring list despite him starting only four games.

“The first few games cost me more physically, but with every passing game I have been feeling better,” he said. “I hope the results continue to come on the field.”

Cisneros’ loan expires July 7. Martinez, the franchise’s all-time leading scorer, is expected to return in June or July after his rehab is complete following arthroscopic surgery on his right knee April 6.

Cisneros said Saturday he wants to stay with the club.

“Since the first moment that I was asked if I wanted to come, I said yes,” he said. “My intention is to stay for a long time. I know that it doesn’t depend on me, but what does depend on me, I am going to do what’s possible to stay longer.”

The club may not want him to leave.

HIs three goals Saturday were Martinez-like.

His first was a hard-hit shot that blew through Chicago goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina’s attempted save. His second was a poacher’s dream: a tap-in after Slonina pushed a shot right into his path. Cisneros’ third was a showcase of his speed and willingness to keep running at a backline when he was played through by Thiago Almada. Cisneros only had to round Slonina to score his third goal by the 36th minute. Manager Gonzalo Pineda said Cisneros’ determination to run was rewarded Saturday.

The result was the first hat trick by an Atlanta United player since Martinez did so on July 21, 2018. Cisneros became the third player in team history to accomplish the feat. The other was by Miguel Almiron. It was also the second-fastest hat trick in team history, only behind the 33 minutes it took Martinez against Orlando on Sept. 16, 2017.

“We’ve got so much talent inside this locker room with Josef (Martinez); obviously he’s not available right now,” fullback Brooks Lennon said. “Ronaldo stepped in and made a name for himself. To score three goals in the first half is really good. We’re proud of him and happy for him that he was able to get his first hat trick in MLS. Hopefully, he can continue to put the ball in the back of the net for us.”

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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1

March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0

March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1

March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3

April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0

April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0

April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0

April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1

April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1

May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1

May 15 vs. New England, 1:30 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2

June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC

July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1

July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC

Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1

Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV

Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1

Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX

Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE

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