Team of the Matchday

Jamal Thiaré rewarded with MLS Team of the Matchday for birthday brace

Jamal Thiare Birthday MLS Team of the Matchday Brace vs. Chicago Fire

The party continues for Jamal Thiaré.

The Atlanta United striker scored a brace in the club’s 3-0 win over Chicago Fire on Sunday. And on Monday, the performance landed him a spot on the MLS Team of the Matchday, the first time in his career that Thiaré has appeared on the league's weekly list.

Matchday not only signified Thiaré’s first career goals in MLS. It was also special because the striker celebrated his 31st birthday on March 31.

“I don’t know if you guys know that Jamal’s birthday is today,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said during his post-match press conference. “Happy birthday to him. He celebrates scoring his first goal with the club in his first touch in the game. It’s an amazing story.”

"I'm very happy," Thiaré said after the match translated from his native language, French. "I'm happy that I scored on my birthday, and I'm happy how it turned out."

The first of Thiaré’s two goals arrived moments after he came onto the pitch. With his team ahead 1-0 going into the final 25 minutes of play, Pineda sent on Thiaré to replace Atlanta's other goal scorer on the day, Giorgos Giakoumakis. Giakoumakis opened the scoring with a close-range toe-poke right before halftime, a goal that moved him up to no. 2 all-time in regular season scoring in Atlanta United history.

Thiaré, entering the match as a substitute in the 64th minute, made the most out of his first touch on the ball: a no-doubt header off a pinpoint cross from Brooks Lennon that went into the back of the net and doubled Atlanta United’s lead.

"I trust myself. I'm confident in myself, and I know the coach trusts me as well and so do my teammates," Thiaré said. "At the end, it's just about doing my job, and that's what I did today."

With Atlanta United comfortably two goals ahead, dominating in shots, expected goals, and possession, and Chicago Fire down a man after Carlos Teran was issued a red card in the 84th minute, it appeared that the home team would ride the wave toward a 2-0 victory.

But Thiaré wasn’t done just yet.

In second-half stoppage time, the Senegalese striker cleaned up a rebound from a Thiago Almada shot that clanged off the post. Thiaré took a touch to evade a defender then delivered a driven shot for his second goal. Icing on the cake.

“I’m a person that doesn’t usually celebrates their birthday,” he said. “I’m a person that constantly stays in their own bubble and does their own thing. It was awesome that it happened to be my birthday today and that I, on top of that, scored. Going forward, I’m probably just going to stay calm. No celebration whatsoever. I'm just going to keep working.”

This is the first time that Thiaré has been given the league's weekly honor and the third time in five weeks that an Atlanta United striker has appeared on the list. Twice Giakoumakis was previously named to MLS Team of the Matchday after the striker scored in Atlanta's wins over New England and Orlando City.

Incidentally, all three of Atlanta's goals Sunday in the win over Chicago came from this pair of strikers -- one who was in the starting XI and the other who replaced him off the bench.

“It’s always good to have two strikers that can score a goal at any moment,” Pineda said. “We're happy having that not just competition but that depth in the squad. It’s the first time we feel like we have really, really two guys that are able to score goals at any moment.”

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