Just over a year ago, the city of Atlanta prepared for a new sports franchise to take the scene, with hopes of changing the culture surrounding Atlanta sports and providing an additional source of excitement in the sports arena by bringing in Atlanta United. And exactly one year later, the Five Stripes find themselves exactly where they were a year ago, having won two of their last three games in their second season of play in Major League Soccer (MLS). Last year, Atlanta United lost its first-ever game against New York Red Bulls but bounced back with two straight victories against Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire before having a week off to prepare for their fourth game of the season. This year is no different. After a disastrous 4-0 losing performance against the Houston Dynamo to kick off the 2018 campaign, Atlanta United (2-0-1) has found another wave of early-season success, defeating D.C. United and the Vancouver Whitecaps in convincing fashion. TRENDING STORIES: A Cinderella Story: Ramblers, Wildcats prove their worth, compete for spot in Final Four MLS announces opponent, date for 2018 All-Star Game in Atlanta Martinez' hat trick helps Atlanta United beat Whitecaps 4-1 And, like last year, the Five Stripes have the international break this week. Coming off two huge wins, Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said he can appreciate the week off early in the season. “I think we’re in a decent moment at a current time,” Guzan said. “Two good results. Two decent performances. It is what it is. You take it, and you make sure we’re ready for when we go up (to Minnesota).” Currently, Minnesota United (2-0-1) sits in second place in the MLS Western Conference behind Los Angeles FC and faces the New York Red Bulls Saturday evening. Atlanta United played Minnesota United to a draw in a preseason matchup this year but split the season series within its expansion year. With the week off, it gives the Five Stripes some additional time to prepare for the match, continue to improve on defense in some of its weaker areas and continue to improve what is working in their favor, one being the stellar level of play from forward Josef Martinez. ✅ Team of the Week ✅ Player of the Week ✅ Goal of the Week What a performance from @josefmartinez17! pic.twitter.com/ThRkofsLoE — Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) March 24, 2018 Martinez, the current MLS leader in goals with four, notched his fourth career hat trick against Vancouver and sits just one shy of the MLS record in only 23 games played in his career. While he hopes to break the record, the Valencia, Venezuela native said he is more focused on winning and becoming better as a team. “Hopefully, I can get it but I just want to (show appreciation) and thank my teammates,” Martinez said the victory over Vancouver. “I’m just trying to keep getting better.” AU head coach Tata Martino said he is not surprised one bit by Martinez’s success. “I honestly thought he would be a decisive player for us,” Martino said. “I saw him play with Venezuela, played against him and saw him play in Copa America. So, to be honest, I have to say that I thought he would be that for us as well.” Martinez is doing just that, and his teammates like defender Michael Parkhurst can appreciate his special talent. “He’s got that mentality,” Parkhurst said. “He’s just ruthless in front of the net. He gets upset in training and in little games in training (where) we’re just goofing around, he gets upset if he doesn’t score goals. It’s just what he does. It’s what he loves to do and you can see it out there.” Martino has also implemented different formations early in the season, having played in the 3-5-2 formation against Vancouver after the success with it against D.C. United, allowing the forwards to find space between the defensive midfielders and use the width of the field when they receive the ball. With things coming together for the Five Stripes, Atlanta United will hopes to add a third-straight victory to keep its early-season success rolling in a road matchup against Minnesota United March 31 before returning home to play Los Angeles FC April 7.