Josef Martinez produced his Major League Soccer-record sixth career hat trick Saturday to lead Atlanta United to a 3-1 victory over Wayne Rooney and DC United.
With a league-leading 22 goals in 22 appearances this season, Venezuelan- born Martinez is on pace to break the MLS season scoring record of 27 goals held by Roy Lassiter, Chris Woolskins and Bradley Wright-Phillips.
In a clash between league-leaders Atlanta and a DC United team languishing in last place in the Eastern Conference, it was visiting DC that struck first.
A one-touch pass from Rooney found Paul Arriola in flight. Arriola’s pass freed Zoltai Stoeber and the Hungarian fired past Atlanta keeper Brad Uzan for a 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.
Martinez knotted the score at 1-1 in the 30th, heading home Hector Villalba’s cross from close range.
Martinez put Atlanta ahead in the 54th minute, heading home a deflected cross at the far post.
He completed his hat trick on a counter attack after Miguel Palmiro’s through ball was blocked but fell favourably Martinez who easily rounded DC goalkeeper David Ousted to score in the 73Rd.
Martinez broke the MLS record for career hat tricks he had shared with Stern John and Diego Seena. John played for Columbus in the late 1990s and Seena played for the now defunct Miami Fusion.
Martinez’s exploit meant Atlanta spoiled former England star Wayne Rooney’s first start for his new club DC United.
The 32-year-old Rooney, England’s all-time leading goal scorer, was the centre of attention as he came on as a substitute in his DC United debut last weekend, playing a role in two goals from Arriola as DC beat Vancouver 3-1.
After gaining the starting nod from manager Ben Olson, Rooney was replaced by Darren Mattocks after a relatively quiet 66 minutes.