Giorgos Giakoumakis was awarded 2023 MLS Newcomer of the Year, the league announced Thursday. Giakoumakis, who joined Atlanta United in February as a Designated Player signing, led the club in goals (17) and finished the regular season tied for second-most goals scored in MLS.
The award recognizes the player who had previous professional experience and made his MLS debut in 2023. Giakoumakis beat out Lionel Messi of Inter Miami CF as well as Eduard Löwen of St. Louis CITY SC, who were the other two finalists.
The honor solidifies an impactful first MLS campaign for the 28-year-old from Greece. Throughout the season, Giakoumakis impressed with his finishing ability and hunger for goals. Most recently, the striker notched a brace in the Decision Day draw with the 2023 Supporters' Shield winners, FC Cincinnati.
Giakoumakis made the most out of his time on the pitch, making 21 regular season starts for Atlanta United. In just 1791 minutes played, the striker scored 17 goals to average 0.85 goals per 90 minutes. By comparison, the other player in MLS to score 17 goals was Cincinnati's Luciano Acosta, who scored the same amount of goals in 2612 minute played. All 17 goals scored by Giakoumakis were non-penalty kick goals.
Giakoumakis joined MLS back in February as a designated player signing for Atlanta United through the 2026 season. He arrived from Celtic FC in the Scottish Premiership where he was the top goal scorer during the 2021-22 season.
His scoring ability transferred into MLS play in just his second appearance. Giakoumakis made his MLS and club debut on March 11 at Charlotte FC and scored his first goal the club's next match on March 18 in Atlanta's 5-1 win over Portland Timbers. The Greek striker went on to finish the regular season with 17 goals, chasing the Golden Boot through the second half of the season. He'd end up tied for second-place in the Golden Boot standings, just three behind the leader, Dénis Bouanga of LAFC.
This marks the second consecutive year, and third time overall, that an Atlanta United player has earned the Newcomer of the Year award. Last season in 2022 Giakoumakis's teammate Thiago Almada earned the honor in his debut MLS season. Paraguayan international Miguel Almirón was named MLS Newcomer of the Year in 2017 during the club’s inaugural season.
This is the first year-end award for Giakoumakis and Atlanta United in 2023. Of the seven Atlanta United players nominated, three were named by MLS as finalists: Giakoumakis, Almada and Miles Robinson. The award for Young Player of the Year, which Almada is a finalist for, and Comeback Player of the Year, which Robinson is finalist for, will be announced within the following weeks.
The vote for Newcomer of the Year was determined by a mix of current players, club technical staffs and media members.