Atlanta United captured a dominant win at home Saturday night, defeating Eastern Conference rival and recent Leagues Cup finalist Nashville SC 4-0. And on Monday, three Atlanta United players were rewarded for the team's result and their individual standout performances. Thiago Almada and Miles Robinson were named to the MLS Team of the Matchday presented by Audi. In addition, Xande Silva earned a spot on the bench for scoring his first MLS goal.
This is the second consecutive week that Atlanta United has had members named to the league's weekly list. Following the 2-0 win over Seattle Sounders, Giorgos Giakoumakis was given the honor and voted MLS Player of the Matchday for his brace. Gonzalo Pineda was also named MLS Coach of the Matchday.
Monday's announcement marks Almada's fourth selection on the year and second for Robinson.
It was a record-breaking night for the 22-year-old from Argentina. Almada contributed to three Atlanta United's goals and even played a role in Atlanta's fourth. (He was not credited with an assist on the goal scored by Saba Lobjanidze, although the two players combining led to Lobjanidze's converted backheel in the 87th minute.)
Almada assisted the opening goal scored by Silva in the 26th minute. The midfielder returned the favor at the opening of the second half, setting up Almada to score a chip shot over goalkeeper Joe Willis that made it 2-0 Atlanta. Later in the second half, Almada would drive a corner kick into the box to assist the goal scored by his Atlanta United counterpart on this week's MLS Team of the Matchday and give his team a 3-0 lead 57 minutes into the match.
Almada leads the league in assists (13) and key passes (64). With the goal and two assists on the night, Almada's total of goals contributed this season now sits at 22. He's the second fastest Atlanta United player to reach at least 20 goal contributions in a season. In addition, Atlanta's new no. 10 was given a perfect rating of 10 on Sofascore, a sports data provider that grades player and team performances.
"I just tried to do my best, along with my teammates. The most important thing is the group and hopefully together we can achieve what we'd like," Almada said after the match.
Saturday marked the first appearance in Atlanta for two players acquired by the club during the summer transfer window. Silva made the starting XI for the second straight MLS match. Lobjanidze also entered in the second half as a sub to make his club debut. Both players scored in their first appearance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The addition of both players, along with midfielder Tristan Muyumba, has so far proven to lift the play of Atlanta's attackers such as Almada, who was already having an MVP caliber season. The presence of experienced playmakers and their ability to create with a player of Almada's skill has led to six points, and six goals, in two straight matches.
"Every player is giving their best right now, but we can't be satisfied with where we are now," Almada said. "We have to keep pushing and keep fighting to be as high as we can in the standings."
Joining Almada on this week's edition of the Team of the Matchday is Miles Robinson. The Atlanta United center back contributed to the team's eighth clean sheet of the season and prevented the Golden Boot leader from finding his 14th goal. Robinson was also one of four goal scorers on the night for the 5-Stripes.
With Atlanta United's new attacking options clicking on all cylinders, it might be easy to overlook the work done by the team on the defensive side of the ball. Saturday night, Atlanta United held an MLS opponent scoreless for the second consecutive match. Atlanta United beat Seattle Sounders on the road 2-0 last weekend before earning Saturday's 4-0 win at home against Nashville.
That stat becomes even more impressive knowing who was on the field Saturday. Hany Mukhtar of Nashville SC is a dangerous goal scorer and currently leads MLS in the Golden Boot race with 13 goals. However, Atlanta's defense proved up to the task of holding off Mukhtar. The attacking midfielder was limited to three shots, 0.34 expected goals and just one chance created.
"I think today Mukhtar wasn't happy on the field," Atlanta United head coach Gonzalo Pineda said. "He wasn't feeling comfortable because most of the balls he touched he was under pressure. It wasn't easy passes for him and he wasn't able to receive and turn many times. He wasn't comfortable and it was part of the game plan."
In addition to his standout performance, Robinson was also one of the four different goal scorers for Atlanta. In the 57th minute, the 6-foot-2 defender rose to knock in a header on an Almada corner kick. The goal was his first of the season for the club and second total in his MLS career.