Hat Trick Hero: How Many Hat Tricks In Atlanta’s Pro Soccer History?

Miguel Almiron went into the record books Saturday night with his hat trick against the Houston Dynamo at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In first-division, professional soccer history in Atlanta, Almiron became the eighth player to score three or more goals in a match and the sixth to do so at home in Atlanta. By becoming the second Atlanta United player to score a hat trick this season, after Josef Martinez’s effort in Minnesota in March, Almiron and Martinez became the second set of teammates to score hat tricks in the same season.

Graham Newton was the first Atlanta player to score a hat trick in a first-division match on July 19, 1967. The Chiefs were hosting the Toronto Falcons at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a National Professional Soccer League match. In the middle of the standings, the 25-year-old English forward made his mark on Atlanta soccer history in a 4-1 win. Newton went on to score 23 goals in his Atlanta career over three seasons.

South African legend Kaizer Motaung scored the next three hat tricks in Atlanta history, all of them on the road. He notched his first in the Chiefs’ 1968 North American Soccer League championship season on Aug. 2 in Baltimore against the Bays. The following season, Motaung recorded two more firsts in Atlanta soccer history. He became the first player to score four goals in a match on June 21 in St. Louis against the Stars. Motaung also became the first to score two hat tricks in the same season with another four goal performance on Aug. 17 in Baltimore.

After scoring 32 goals in four seasons with the Chiefs, Motaung returned to his native South Africa and launched his own club. Taking inspiration from Atlanta and his time here, he named them the Kaizer Chiefs. They are widely-known as the most successful and most supported club in the country with twelve league titles to their credit.

Henry Largie and Art Welch joined the Atlanta hat trick club in 1970 at Tara Stadium in Jonesboro when the Chiefs relocated to Clayton County for the NASL season. Welch matched Motaung’s feat with two hat tricks in the same season in August on the road against the Dallas Tornado. Paul Child recorded the last hat trick for the original Atlanta Chiefs on May 20, 1972 against the Tornado at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

When the Chiefs returned in 1979, Jeff Bourne joined the record books with two hat tricks. His first was on June 13, 1979 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium against the Minnesota Kicks. He repeated the feat the following season at the Liberty Bowl when the Chiefs lost 4-3 to the Memphis Rogues.

Can a third Atlanta United player record a hat trick this season? It would be the first time in Atlanta’s soccer history that three teammates would achieve the feat. With the Five Stripes currently the highest scoring team in MLS, it would not be a shock to see someone else join Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron in the record book. Let us know who you think has the best odds for joining Martinez and Almiron in the record books in the comments or on Twitter at @929thegame.

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