Amidst the release of the annual MLS 24 Under 24 list, it's only appropriate to recognize the three Atlanta United players honored in the list by throwing it back to their best moments in their Five Stripes journey thus far. See below for some of the biggest moments that helped Yamil Asad, Tito Villalba and Miguel Almirón earn a spot on the league's most coveted list of young stars.
#11 - Yamil Asad
Atlanta United acquired Yamil Asad on January 11th, 2017 on a season long loan from Argentine Primera División side Vélez Sarsfield and just a month later, he made his presence felt among Atlanta supporters with this upper 90 curler in their first preseason match in Chattanooga.
Ever since joining the expansion side, he's made a crucial impact from the wing bringing superior vision and incredible technical ability but perhaps his most memorable moment occurred in front of net when he smashed home the club's first-ever MLS goal.
The young Argentine talent has recorded 12 assists this season, one of only seven players across the league to reach that number. He's threatening in so many ways and his impressive dynamic attacking ability was on full display most recently in their 4-0 thrashing of the L.A. Galaxy where Asad tallied a brace as well as two assists.
Asad is coming into his own at the age of 23 and much of his motivation and drive comes from his family and the example set by his father. Learn all about Asad's story in his Path to the Pitch feature below.
#8 - Tito Villalba
On the other wing Atlanta have another incredibly dynamic attacker in Hector "Tito" Villalba and his pace, work ethic, and finishing ability is why the expansion club signed the youngster from San Lorenzo as their first Designated Player in July of 2016. Step into the scouting room with the team that recruited the Argentine talent:
Villalba has been the pinnacle example of Atlanta's "next man up" mentality, stepping in when they need him most. While normally starting on the wing, when striker Josef Martinez was forced to the sidelines with injury, Villalba slid into the center forward role and delivered big time on multiple occasions including a brace in Toronto that allowed Atlanta to earn a valuable draw at the home of the current Supporters' Shield leaders.
"Lion Tamer" is a nickname provided by the Five Stripes fans and given to Villalba following his unforgettable, clutch, last-minute goals that allowed Atlanta to earn a win in Orlando and steal a point in the reverse fixture in Atlanta in back-to-back weeks against the Lions. Just in case you missed those moments, experience the thrills below:
The 23-year-old is starting to make long-distance screamers a bit of a habit and he most recently offered Atlanta fans another spectacle from outside the area with his game-winning wonder strike against Montreal this past week.
#1 - Miguel Almirón
It'd be hard for someone to debate Atlanta's number 10 taking the number one spot in the MLS 24 Under 24 list. Since joining the expansion club in December of 2016 from Argentine club Lanús, the Paraguayan international has turned heads around the league with his blistering pace, sleek poise on the ball and ability to completely take over games from the center of the park. Before he even signed with the club, he was sparking interest...
His essential presence was seen in spurts throughout preseason by Atlanta fans, but his true identity was revealed to the world in the club's first MLS victory when they defeated Minnesota 6-1. His brace and assist in the snow proved to everyone what he can do on national television, and no one will forget his ice cold wonder volley from the historic day.
Perhaps just as memorable, maybe more so: Almirón's hat-trick that sent the Atlanta crowd wild at Bobby Dodd Stadium and helped the expansion side soar to a 4-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo.
Almirón was one of three players who were voted to represent Atlanta United at the MLS All-Star game in Chicago against Spanish giants, Real Madrid. In case you missed it, check out his Mic'd Up feature below and jump into a training session with the Paraguayan playmaker as he trains with the league's best of the best.