Penalty and red cards change the game
Atlanta United has an attack built to punish even the most benign error. So when Union defender Mark McKenzie let the ball roll off his foot in his own half, Philadelphia were always going to need to be perfect to prevent a big chance from developing. Referee Sorin Stoica ruled that Union defender Auston Trusty was not perfect, awarding Atlanta a penalty after the Union defender and Josef Martinez came together in the box.
Haris Medunjanin and Captain Alejandro Bedoya were sent off in the chaos that followed the call.
Martinez the main man
Atlanta United forward Josef Martinez was already the leading scorer with New York Red Bulls' Bradley-Wright Phillips in MLS coming into Saturday night’s match, and he added three more against the Union. First and second half penalties bookended a nifty run that granted the prolific striker space to meet Miguel Almiron’s perfect low, driven cross.
Martinez’s fifth career hat trick means the Venezuelan has tied the MLS record for career three-goal games after only 34 games in the league.
Nine for fighting
Philadelphia Head Coach Jim Curtin inserted midfielder Warren Creavalle for Borek Dockal after Bedoya and Medunjanin's red cards, meaning the Union had a single midfielder on the pitch for an extended period while down a goal in one of the most difficult places to play in the league. Yet the Union’s hard defensive work kept Atlanta to a single shot from a central area of the box for the remainder of the first half. It took a halftime substitute and smart adjustments from Atlanta United Head Coach Tata Martino to breach Philadelphia's defense in open play, and even then the Union managed to pull one back through Fafa Picault. Additionally, it looked as though the Union might have a free kick in a dangerous position when Leandro Gonzalez Perez and CJ Sapong got into a tangle as Sapong broke toward the Atlanta goal, but Stoica waved play on.