Two Atlanta United players won individual year-end awards and the same two players were named to the 2023 Best XI, MLS announced Tuesday.
Atlanta's Thiago Almada, this year's MLS Young Player of the Year, and 2023 MLS Newcomer of the Year Giorgos Giakoumakis were included in the selection of the Best XI presented by Continental Tire, which recognizes the league’s top players at each position as determined by members of the media, MLS players and MLS club technical staffs.
The duo joins Miguel Almirón (2017, 2018), Josef Martínez (2017, 2018, 2019) and Miles Robinson (2019, 2021) as Atlanta players to make an MLS Best XI.
This is the first time Almada has appeared on the MLS Best XI. In just his second season, he made numerous statements with his play, including setting the club record for single-season assists, which he broke with five matches remaining in the regular season on September 16 against Inter Miami CF. Atlanta's "Starboy" finished the regular season with 19 assists, the most in MLS.
Almada also established himself as one of the best free kick takers in the league, proving to be lethal from any distance just as he showed most recently during the international break:
Almada was named Young Player of the Year by MLS earlier in November. He was also a finalist for 2023 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player, finishing third behind the winner, FC Cincinnati's Luciano Acosta, as well as LAFC forward Dénis Bouanga.
In addition to leading the league in assists and successful dribbles (95), Almada was also one of only a few players in MLS to tally double-digit goals and assists. The Argentine finished the regular season with 11 goals, second on the team behind only Giakoumakis. At 21 years and 338 days old, Almada became the youngest player to earn MLS Player of the Month presented by CELSIUS® Essential Energy honors, for February and March, since Daryl Dike in 2020.
Atlanta United's Giorgos Giakoumakis also appeared on the league's Best XI. The striker wrapped up his debut season in MLS with 17 goals, chasing the Golden Boot through the second half of the season. He ended up tied for second-place in the Golden Boot standings, just three behind the leader, Dénis Bouanga of LAFC. Giakoumakis was named MLS Newcomer of the Year earlier this month.
Giakoumakis joined MLS back in February as a designated player signing for Atlanta United through the 2026 season. He arrived from Celtic FC in the Scottish Premiership where he was the top goal scorer during the 2021-22 season. The 28-year-old from Greece quickly adapted to MLS play. Throughout the season, Giakoumakis impressed with his finishing ability and hunger for goals. Most recently, the striker scored a goal and added two assists in Atlanta's Game 2 win in the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against Columbus Crew.
Giakoumakis made the most out of his time on the pitch, making 21 regular season starts for Atlanta United. In just 1791 minutes played, the striker scored 17 goals to average 0.85 goals per 90 minutes. He became the second-fastest player in league history to reach double-digit goals to start their MLS career with 10 goals in his first 766 minutes of action. All 17 goals scored by Giakoumakis were non-penalty kick goals.
2023 MLS Best XI
Goalkeeper: Roman Bürki (St. Louis CITY SC)
Defenders: Matt Miazga (FC Cincinnati), Tim Parker (St. Louis CITY SC), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)
Midfielders: Luciano ‘Lucho’ Acosta (FC Cincinnati), Thiago Almada (Atlanta United), Héctor Herrera (Houston Dynamo FC), Hany Mukhtar (Nashville SC)
Forwards: Dénis Bouanga (LAFC), Giorgos Giakoumakis (Atlanta United), Juan ‘Cucho’ Hernández (Columbus Crew)