By Harry Allison
Josef Martinez scored three goals as host Atlanta United defeated the nine-man Union 3-1.
The three goals gave Martinez an MLS-leading 12 goals this season.
Atlanta ended to a two-match winless streak to remain atop the Eastern Conference. The Union had their four-match unbeaten run snapped.
The Union’s Alejandro Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin were both issued red cards for dissent by referee Sorin Stoica in the 19th minute, leaving the Union with nine players for the final 70-plus minutes.
Martinez’s first goal came on a penalty in the 21st minute, after Union defender Auston Trusty was whistled for a foul in the penalty area, which sparked the argument that got Medunjanin and Bedoya sent off.
Bedoya had already been booked earlier and received a second yellow for encroachment as he was fixing his sock in the penalty area while Martinez was preparing to take the penalty.
Medunjanin then became incensed in protesting Bedoya’s sending off and picked up two yellow cards of his own in quick succession to leave the Union with nine men.
“From everything the Atlanta players told me, and from what the fourth official said, [referee Sorin Stoica] had no idea Ale was already on a yellow card, which is a mistake,” Union coach Jim Curtin said after the game. “I understand it’s human beings. I understand it’s a difficult game to ref and there’s 50,000 people here and it’s loud and it’s the heat of the moment, but I would love for him to come out and say that he made a mistake. It’s not worthy of the second yellow card to the captain of our team.”
Atlanta outshot Philly 31-5, putting 10 of those on target, and controlled the ball for 75 percent of the match.
Martinez extended the lead to 2-0 in the 49th minute off assists from Miguel Almiron and Mikey Ambrose. Almiron drove down the left wing and nearly reached the goal line before cutting in toward the net. His low cross got past Union goalkeeper Andre Blake and found Martinez, who got a step ahead of a Philadelphia defender. It was Almiron’s sixth assist of the season.
The Union got back in the game on Fafa Picault’s goal in the 52nd minute, off a looping pass from Warren Creavalle. Picault controlled the ball behind the Atlanta back line and hammered a 10-yard shot under a diving Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Martinez helped clinch the victory with another penalty kick in the 83rd minute after the Union’s Fabinho was called for a handball in the penalty area. The call was confirmed by video review.