Christian Benteke hat trick! DC United star makes MVP case


Christian Benteke scored a hat trick Saturday night in D.C. United's 3-2 win at Atlanta United, a familiar sight from the Belgian star.

How familiar? It was Benteke's third hat trick in his last 13 matches (dating back to September 2023), entering a three-way tie for the Golden Boot presented by Audi lead with Luis Suárez (Inter Miami CF) and Cristian Arango (Real Salt Lake) – all on 11 goals.

Benteke's not just a Golden Boot candidate, though, according to his head coach.

"When you talk about Golden Boot, that's a possibility," Troy Lesesne said post-match. "But then in terms of MVP and that type of talk, I think that should be in the same conversation with what Christian's allowing our team to do.

"Because without him, we don't have some of the results that we have. He really is carrying this team in a number of different ways and I'm hoping we can continue to build on that."

D.C. United are home to an MLS-record four MVPs: Marco Etcheverry (1998), Christian Gómez (2006), Luciano Emilio (2007) and Dwayne De Rosario (2011).

And while the 2024 MLS MVP race seems like Lionel Messi's to lose, Benteke continues to make his case.

"He's incredible," Lesesne said. "He's such an incredible presence in our team beyond the goalscoring. I don't think anyone's going to sit here and create a narrative that's not going to talk about him first because he deserves to be talked about.

"He is a handful and one more time, he allows other players to come into the match and have dangerous opportunities themselves. I'm very lucky to work with him."

Benteke also scored a hat trick in D.C.'s season opener, a 3-1 win over the New England Revolution. Another early-season highlight was a brace in a 2-1 win over Seattle Sounders FC.

The 2023 MLS All-Star and former Premier League standout continues to dominate aerial challenges. And his impact extends far beyond that.

"Any time I have any interaction with him, I'm impressed by his growth mindset," Lesesne said. "He's just so open-minded. I can be really honest and really critical of Christian. He likes that.

"He likes to get really direct feedback and I think that sets the tone for our entire group to say let's hold one another accountable. When you talk about cultures and environments, when you have someone like that who is your leader and then he always goes and influences the game and impacts the game for us with goals, it makes my job much, much easier."