Atlanta, GA – Redeeming himself, in the 88th minute Andrew Carleton again found himself in the top right corner of the goal box and played a bending cross to the far post. Martinez seemed to be waiting suspended in mid-air when he drove a header back behind recovering goalkeeper Stefan Marinović to seal his hat trick and finish off the game at 4-1 Atlanta over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
During stoppage time, however, Atlanta United right back Franco Escobar suffered a collision with goalkeeper Brad Guzan and required carting off due to a blow to the head.
With a comfortable score and about 15 minutes of regular time remaining, 17-year-old homegrown Carleton subbed on for Atlanta in exchange for Villalba. Carleton became involved on both ends of the pitch and generally made smart runs in the offensive area.
In the 58th minute, Atlanta worked the ball into a dangerous area. Tito Villalba played the ball from the top of the 18-yard-box to Gressel in an open right third of the box. Gressel then played a cross through the 6-yard-box, which was run into by the Whitecaps Aaron Maund for an own goal to make the score 2-0 in favor of Atlanta.
While the severity of the injury remains unknown, the delay did not spoil the festivities for home fans. Indeed there was much to celebrate. The final goal marked homegrown Carleton’s first professional assist.
In just the 23rd MLS match of his Atlanta United career, Josef Martinez completed his fourth hat trick, making him second all-time in the MLS regular season, needing one more to match record-holders Stern John and Diego Cerna with five.
As Man of the Match, Martinez ceremonially drove in the golden spike in front of the home supporters, as if it were the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow of celebration across the seats of Mercedes Benz Stadium.
For most on St. Patrick’s Day, there are two types of people in the world, the Irish and those who wish they were. In this case, Atlanta fans commemorated the holiday reminding the rest of MLS there are two types of people, the Five Stripes and those who wish they were.