Josef Martinez leads Atlanta United with a second hat-trick, 3-3 draw

Defender Tyrone Mears stepped up in the 85th minute to thwart a goal attempt by Orlando City SC.
Defender Tyrone Mears stepped up in the 85th minute to thwart a goal attempt by Orlando City SC.

Atlanta United FC’s third game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium got off to a slow start and ended in a 3-3 draw disappointing the club and supporters. The first goal was scored by Orlando City’s Dom Dyer in the 10th minute eclipsing Atlanta United FC’s  score first and fast strategy. Dwyer sent a header past  Brad Guzan in a cross to the far post starting the match at 1-0 lead.

“There’s bound to be a bit of frustration, but I think the frustration is born out of the fact that we purely expect better out of each other,” Guzan said.

Multiple goal attempts by Atlanta United FC were blocked by Orlando City SC goalkeeper Joseph Bendik. The precision just wasn’t there for the expansion team. When Josef Martinez scored in the 36th minute with assist from Julian Gressel and Tito Villalba it was upset three minutes later when Dwyer headed for an open net bringing the score 2-1. Atlanta United gave away points by leaving themselves wide open after the first few minutes of each goal, and Orlando City SC took full advantage by scoring twice within the windows of opportunity.

Josef Martinez scored another goal with an assist by Chris McCann in the 55th minute tying up the match to 2-2. Martinez is a star of the club, and was voted Alcatel MLS Player of the Week by the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) and joins Miguel Almirón as the second Atlanta United player to be recognized this season, but it became obvious at the end of the first half he needed more support on the turf. The defense for Atlanta United FC was weak leaving the striker working overtime without much backup. Three minutes after the second goal, Orlando City SC re-took the lead when Cyle Larin put it away at the far post with an assist by Dwyer. 

Martinez sacked another goal in the 71st minute with the assist by Tito Villalba. The hat trick, a second in as many games, evened the score 3-3. Kevin Kratz subbed for Julian Gressel in the 71st minute and a much needed Tyrone Mears replaced Anton Walkes in the 81st minute.

If Mears could play center back and Walkes wing back Atlanta United would have more of an advantage, but Mears stepped up in the 85th minute diverting an Orlando City SC goal by pushing the ball to the pitch. With three minutes of stoppage time added Atlanta United FC’s  attempts to score were blocked ending the game in a 3-3 draw.  Head coach Tata Martino said the three goals scored by Orlando City SC were his responsibility.

“We played a backline that had never played together before….,” Martino said. “Outside of any individual mistakes the responsibility is all mine.”

The next Atlanta United plays L.A. Galaxy Wednesday September 20 at 7pm at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

About the Author
Patrice Worthy is a reporter at the Atlanta Jewish Times where she writes about Israeli politics, food, art and culture, ethnic Jewry and Jews in the Diaspora.