Whitecaps see early red as Atlanta run riot

Josef Martinez had his fourth career hat trick on Saturday night to help Atlanta United beat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1.

Josef Martinez scores hat trick following Kendall Waston's 13th minute ejection

Josef Martinez scored a hat trick to help United Atlanta FC defeat the Vancouver Whitecaps 4-1 on Saturday. (@ATLUTD/Twitter)

The Vancouver Whitecaps had a clear game plan heading into their road match against Atlanta United on Saturday night.

An early red card changed that for Carl Robinson's men.

Josef Martinez had his fourth career hat trick to help Atlanta beat the Whitecaps 4-1.

After Kendall Waston was sent off in the 14th minute, Atlanta United used the extra man to their advantage, scoring four goals to hand Vancouver Whitecaps their first defeat of the 2018 MLS regular season, 4-1 in Atlanta on Saturday evening. 0:59

Vancouver (2-1-0) played a man down, and from behind, for most of the match after Kendall Waston was given a straight red card for elbowing in the 13th minute that led to an Atlanta penalty kick. Martinez, a 24-year old who was fourth in MLS with 19 goals last season, converted from the spot moments later.

Robinson called the red card "absolutely shocking."

"It had a major impact on the game," Robinson said. "Unfortunately then it was an uphill battle for us and we weren't good enough to play 10 men against 11.

"And credit to them because they scored the goals but it's a massive influence in the game which was a really, really poor decision."

Robinson said he didn't get an explanation from the referee afterwards.

"Three times I think I've had the same referee and each time we've gone down to 10 men so I'm better off probably not talking to him," he said.

Atlanta's Julian Gressel tapped a cross from the right side that deflected off Vancouver's Aaron Maund for an own goal and, about two minutes later, Martinez scored from the top of the box to make it 3-0. On the counterattack, Miguel Almiron fed Martinez on a breakaway for the easy one-on-one finish in the 60th minute.

Vancouver's Erik Hurtado, in his first appearance this season, slipped behind the defence, ran onto a long arcing pass from Jordon Mutch and rolled the ball past goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 85th.

Martinez capped the scoring in the 88th with a leaping header off a cross from Andrew Carleton.

Atlanta (2-1-0) outshot the Whitecaps 21-5.

"My disappointment was 42,000 (fans) coming here, they'll be happy they got the win but they didn't see a proper game of football," Robinson said. "It was affected by someone who didn't need to affect the game and that's a disappointing thing because we're always trying to grow this game in America and Canada.

"It should be about the team and the players. The boy scores a hat trick today and credit to him but it will be overshadowed by the one decision which was wrong."


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