Martinez leads Atlanta United past Vancouver

Three goals by Josef Martinez and an early red card to Vancouver’s Kendall Waston carried Atlanta United to a 4-1 victory on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The win was Atlanta United’s second consecutive at home this season. 45,003 fans attended the match. The team is off next week and will for its third consecutive win at Minnesota United on March 31.

It was a dominating performance by the Five Stripes, who had 18 shots, three on goal, in the game’s first 70 minutes.

“We wanted to have that mentality that we we were going to come out, we were going to dominate the game, going to take advantage of our opportunities,” captain Michael Parkhurst said. “We didn’t quite do that. We should have put the game away in the first half. Good response in the second half.”

Martinez is one hat-trick away from tying the the all-time MLS record of five held by Landon Donovan, Stern John and Diego Cerna. Martinez has played just 23 games in the league.

“Hopefully, I can get it,” he said. “But I just want to appreciate and thank my teammates because we wanted to ratify the performance we had last week.

“I didn’t know about the hat trick. We just wanted to ratify the performance and keep getting better.”

After dominating Atlanta United with two set-pieces goals in last year’s 3-1 win at BC Place, Vancouver manager Carl Robinson surprisingly left Kei Kamara out of the 18. Kamara, who is 6-foot-3, leads the team with two goals, and also has an assist.

Martino also included a surprise in his 11, starting Chris McCann, who is 6-1, instead of Greg Garza, who is 5-8, at left wingback.

Atlanta United took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute on a penalty kick by Martinez. The penalty was the result of referee Ismail Elfath using VAR to review a play on an Atlanta United free kick from 45 yards away. The free kick was the result of a foul drawn by Miguel Almiron.

On the ensuing kick, Waston elbowed Atlanta United’s Leandro Gonzalez Pirez in the head as the players were jockeying for space. After the review, Elfath gave Waston a red card and Atlanta United the penalty kick. After issuing the red card, Waston appeared to turn to Gonzalez Pirez, who was standing on the sideline, and applaud him. He then ran toward Elfath, pushing away teammates who tried to restrain him.

Attacking the 10-man Whitecaps, Atlanta United created numerous chances the remainder of the first half. A 3-on-1 was wasted when Hector Villalba’s pass to Martinez was hit too hard. With two minutes left in the half, Almiron missed a tap-in on a cross from Villalba.

Atlanta United added a second on an own-goal by Aaron Maund resulting from a cross by Julian Gressel, who had put in at least six crosses in the first 58 minutes that no one in a red-and-black jersey could turn into the net.

Martinez struck again two minutes later to give Atlanta United a 3-0 lead in the 60th minute. He was sent through Vancouver’s back line on a long pass from Almiron. It was the sixth multi-goal game in Martinez’s MLS career.

Martinez completed his hat trick in the 88th minute on assist by Andrew Carleton. It was his Carleton’s first assist as a pro.