ATLANTA – Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 4 of the 2023 MLS season.
Almada scored two goals and added two assists in the club’s 5-1 victory at home versus the Portland Timbers on Saturday, March 18. The Argentine midfielder became the first player in MLS history to produce at least four goals and four assists in his club’s first four games of a season. Almada leads MLS in goals and is tied with the Philadelphia Union’s Dániel Gazdag for the most assists. Almada joined Yamil Asad (9/20/2017 vs. the LA Galaxy) as the only players in Atlanta United history with two goals and two assists in a single match.
In the 25th minute, Almada helped open the scoring on the counterattack when he found a sprinting Caleb Wiley in space, and the 18-year-old did the rest, slotting his shot past the goalkeeper to make it 1-0 (Watch Here). The Argentine doubled Atlanta’s lead in spectacular fashion in first-half stoppage time. From a lengthy direct free kick, Almada produced a goal of the year contender with a thunderous, curling effort that kissed off the inside of the post and into the net (Watch Here). After Giorgos Giakoumakis added a third for Atlanta, Almada contributed his second assist when he played a lofted pass to Luiz Araújo, who shrugged off a defender before placing his effort into the corner of the net to make it 4-0 in the 75th minute (Watch Here). Portland pulled a goal back, but Almada finished off the game in the 86th minute, as he received a layoff from Derrick Etienne Jr., turned past a defender, and then easily struck a shot into the side netting (Watch Here).
Since May 1, 2022, Almada’s 25 goal contributions (nine goals, 16 assists) are the fourth-most in MLS behind only Gazdag (33), Hany Mukhtar (30), and Luciano Acosta (26). Despite playing just 33 games for Atlanta, the 21-year-old already ranks seventh in club history with 26 career goal contributions. With his second direct free kick goal of the season, the young World Cup winner became the fifth player aged 22 or younger in MLS history to score multiple direct free kick goals in a year – accomplishing this feat just four games into the season.
After winning MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 1, Almada is the fifth player in MLS history to win the award in two of the first four matchdays of a season, joining Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández (2021), Thierry Henry (2012), Carlos Ruiz (2002), and Cobi Jones (1998). Atlanta’s Caleb Wiley also won the award for Matchday 3 and the Five Stripes are now the first club in MLS history to earn three of the first four Player of the Matchday honors to start a season.
The MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire is selected each matchday of the regular season through both media and fan voting in a process conducted by MLS Communications. A panel of journalists from the North American Soccer Reporters (NASR) comprises 75 percent of the vote, while a Twitter fan vote represents the remaining 25 percent of voting. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.
Atlanta will look to stay atop the Eastern Conference when the team travels to face the Columbus Crew at Lower.com Field on Matchday 5 on Saturday, March 25 (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass, Star 94, La Mejor).