Stats Stories

Thiago Almada joins elite 20-20 club with latest regular season goal

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As Atlanta United, and MLS, develops deeper knowledge and use of data analytics, we’ll be taking a look behind the curtain at some of the specific stats the club values. In our new weekly content series, we examine one metric provided by StatsBomb that may not stand out on a first watch, but upon closer evaluation, is a useful tool to measure the team’s performance. This is Staying on Track presented by MARTA.

Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada is capable of scoring goals in a variety of ways. He’s driven world-class strikes on direct free kicks like he did last year against Portland Timbers. He can chip it over a sliding goalkeeper with the outside of his foot as he did in the 4-0 win over Nashville SC. He can also quickly put the ball on his right foot in the buildup of play and whip a shot into the side netting like he did against FC Cincinnati earlier this year.

He’s also pretty good from the penalty spot.

The midfielder has converted twice from the spot this season, four in his MLS career. The latest came this past weekend during the team’s 3-2 loss to D.C. United. After Giorgos Giakoumakis drew a foul inside the box, the World Cup winner from Argentina coolly stepped up to the spot and delivered a no-doubter toward the right side of the frame to put Atlanta United ahead for the moment.

The goal was Almada’s third in MLS in 2024.

The finish also marked a significant milestone in club history for Almada, who already owns the single-season assist record for Atlanta United. His latest goal was no. 20 in the MLS regular season.

Reaching 20 career goals, along with his 32 assists, means he becomes the third player in club history to record at least 20 goals and 20 assists in the regular season. He joins Miguel Almirón and Tito Villalba as the only players to reach that mark for Atlanta United.

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Almada’s goal contributions during his career in Atlanta also put him in elite MLS company. Since the start of last year, Almada ranks third in non-penalty goals and assists with 28. The two other names on that list are fairly well-known: last season’s Landon Donovan MVP Luciano Acosta and the 2023 Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga of LAFC.

Not bad company for Almada to keep.

Additionally, Almada leads in another offensive category. He has the third-highest number of shots plus key passes with 269.

Last season, Almada scored 11 goals and tallied 19 assists on his way to being named MLS Young Player of the Year, a finalist for Landon Donovan MVP, and on the MLS Best XI. One-third of the way through the 2024 season, he’s not quite on the same trajectory. Still, the young player is making strides in his game and increased his work rate on the defensive side of the ball. Earlier this season, he recorded the most pressures over a three-match stretch in his career.

It’s no surprise that the Argentine and World Cup winner is making an impact on the offensive side as well.

“He wants to win. He wants to do well. He wants to succeed,” head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. “On the other side, you never see Thiago hiding. When he’s struggling on the ball, he never hides. He always looks for the ball. He always wants the ball more, more, more. He’s one of those players that even not having his best game, he can give you one assist or a goal at any moment because he has that magic.”

Atlanta United's Data Scientist & Analyst Arjun Balaraman contributed to this story. Visualizations and video by Khoury Kennedy, Atlanta United's Motion Graphics Producer and Video Editor.

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