Team of the Matchday

Giorgos Giakoumakis lands on MLS Team of the Matchday for home opener hat trick


In no surprise, Atlanta United striker Giorgos Giakoumakis was named to the MLS Team of the Matchday presented by Audi, the league announced Monday. It's the first Team of the Matchday honor for Atlanta United this season.

Giakoumakis is coming off a superb showing in the club's home opener Saturday night. The Greek striker scored a hat trick to lead Atlanta United to a 4-1 victory over New England Revolution for the team's first win of the season. The three goals brought his career total in MLS to 20. Giakoumakis is just the fifth player to reach 20 career regular season goals in fewer than 2,000 minutes.

"It is really important when you win a game, but it's even more important when you can win the game with a big scoreline, like four or five goals, that sends a message," Giakoumakis said in the locker room after the match. "It is good to do that, because so far, we had not shown anything yet. Offensively, we were trying to figure out how we were going to connect with each other again, with some players having to adjust to a new system and how we play, so hopefully this is the start and gives the fans confidence too.”

All three of Giakoumakis's goals came in the second half and his hat trick was perfect: one goal on the right foot, one goal with the left and one on a header. He opened his 2024 account in the 55th minute on a converted penalty kick. Atlanta United was awarded a PK after a handball was called on New England inside the box. After his teammate, Almada, converted a PK right before the halftime break to give Atlanta United a 1-0 lead, Giakoumakis stepped up this time to score his first goal of the season.

The second goal on the night for Giakoumakis came minutes later in the 60th minute when he finished a beautiful team goal. The Atlanta United defenders made some sharp passes deep in New England's attacking third, then Atlanta United moved the ball up the pitch with speed. The ball ended up at the feet of Brooks Lenon on the right flank. He picked out his target and sent a cross into the box that Giakoumakis ran on and met with a header.

"It was a good play," Giakoumakis said. "It was one that we scored sometimes last year, and we're trying to figure it out again how we're going to do it, how we're going to progress the ball from defense to attack really fast. It was nice style of play. It's also about, in the end, my connection with Brooks. We proved last year we have a good connection and he knows exactly where I'm going to be, so it was something I was waiting for."

The third goal was another incredible finish, which was captured from the roof at Mercedes-Benz Stadium here. Giakoumakis collected a deflected shot and used his left foot to volley the ball into the opposite side netting of the goal, one of the best finishes of the weekend.

Heading into the season, Giakoumakis was an early candidate for the Golden Boot, awarded to the player in the league who scores the most goals in the regular season. After contending for the mark last season, Giakoumakis ultimately finished tied for second behind the winner, Denis Bouanga of LAFC. With a full offseason and his first full preseason with club under his belt, the Greek striker seems primed to compete for the individual honor again this season.

“I don’t need to send any message," he said. "I think they know me, and I know them, the strikers who are really dangerous for the Golden Boot. I will try to score every single game, that is my main job and I am really happy when I do it, but the most important thing is to win week in and week out, and the team is first. I really mean that. It sounds strange, but if I win the Golden Boot and the team doesn’t do well in the season, I won’t be happy. So, I need a good combination of these two, the collective and the individual success.”

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