Thiago Almada was named to the MLS Team of the Matchday presented by Audi on Monday for his two goal, two assist performance in Atlanta United's 5-1 rout over Portland Timbers over the weekend. It's the second time this season that the World Cup winner has earned a spot among the league's weekly standouts.
The award, once again, comes not as a big surprise after Almada's special night on Saturday. His first goal of the match, the team's second, was a world-class free kick. Just before the halftime break, Atlanta United drew a penalty about 35 yards out from goal. Almada took the kick and delivered a skillfully arched ball to the goalkeeper's side that banked into the upper right corner. The goal of the year candidate took over social media and spectators shared their own angles of the incredible strike.
The Argentine was active all night, creating a career-high seven chances, second-most in club history for a single match. The first of his two assists on the night, a pass to Caleb Wiley that opened the scoring, marked no. 300 in Atlanta United's regular season history. According to MLS, Almada is also the first player in league history to to have at least four goals and four assists in his team's first four matches of a season. He leads MLS in goals (4), assists (4) and key passes (13).
"The guy's been fantastic for us," goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. "The form that he's in and the moment that he's in right now, I think he sees things happening well before he's actually playing the pass or playing the shot or whatever, finding pockets of space. And I think we are all witnessing a talented young player start to blossom."
Caleb Wiley was named to the bench for MLS Team of the Matchday. Wiley was among the four different scorers in Saturday's win, opening the scoring in the 25th minute to record his third goal on the year. The 18-year-old also recorded his second assist of the season, lofting the ball into the box for to help Giorgos Giakoumakis score his first goal for the club.
Atlanta United has two representatives on MLS Team of the Matchday for the second time this season (Wiley and Miles Robinson were on there last week.) This combination of Wiley and Almada has proven to be a successful one for Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda. The two have combined for 13 goals/assists in the team's four matches to start the season and guide the 5-Stripes to their best start in club history.
"I think you still haven't seen the full package of Caleb Wiley," Pineda said. "I still think he has many things to prove out there, and I hope this is the season where he has a lot more goals and assists."
Next up, Almada will rejoin the World Cup winners Argentina to play a pair of international friendlies against Panama and Curaçao. Caleb Wiley will remain with Atlanta United as they play their next match on the road against Columbus Crew on Saturday, March 25. Don't miss a minute of the action and subscribe to MLS Season Pass!