Xande Silva celebrated his second career goal for the club Saturday with a dance -- and come Monday afternoon the Portugese winger has even more to celebrate. Silva was named to the MLS Team of the Matchday presented by Audi for the first time in his MLS career. He joins teammate Thiago Almada as two members of the 5-Stripes to receive the honor for Matchday 34.
The player from Portugal has elevated Atlanta United's play since joining the club during the summer transfer window. In seven matches played for Atlanta United, he's started five. In that time he's contributed two goals and three assists.
Silva was one of three players Saturday to record a goal and an assist in the same match. He opened the scoring for Atlanta United as the team played host to CF Montréal, finishing off what was essentially a team goal. The ball moved through Caleb Wiley, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Saba Lobjanidze before Silva put it away in the back of the net in the 30th minute.
In addition to scoring the opening goal, Silva played a role in the team's second finish of the night. Minutes after he scored, Silva outmaneuvered the Montréal goalkeeper and made the close-range pass to set up Almada's goal. Atlanta United finished the match with a 4-1 win and the result secured the team a postseason berth.
"I'm going to say every time that was just my job," Silva said. "I've been doing my job, so I'm going to keep training every day to do that."
Silva was one of four new players to join Atlanta United's roster during the summer transfer window. The additions of Silva, Lobjanidze, Tristan Muyumba and Jamal Thiaré, who made his club debut Saturday, have lifted Atlanta United to six results in the team's previous seven matches.
"The togetherness was there," Silva said. "What made us win tonight was the togetherness. That's what we need, and I think we're going to keep playing like that."
Joining his co-representative on MLS Team of the Matchday, Almada was also one of the three players to record a goal and an assist Saturday night. Almada notched a goal of his own in the 33rd minute and set up the fourth goal, scored by Edwin Mosquera, to ice the victory for the 5-Stripes.
Both tallies helped Almada reach a distinguished club mark. With his goal, Almada has now recorded 10+ goals and 10+ assists in a single season, joining Tito Villalba and Miguel Almirón as the only players in club history to do so. The 22-year old World Cup winner already set the club record for assists in a single season last week in the 5-2 win over Inter Miami CF. The assist Almada added Saturday against Montréal extends his record-setting total to 16.
Almada is putting together a quality campaign during the 2023 season. He currently leads MLS in assists (16), goals scored outside the 18-yard box (six), successful dribbles (92) and ranks tied for fifth in goals scored (10). Not to mention Almada has been named to the MLS Team of the Matchday numerous times this season and has been voted MLS Player of the Matchday on three different occasions.
All of that combined makes for a memorable season -- and a strong case for Almada to be the league's MVP.
"He's trying to have that push for MVP, of course," head coach Gonzalo Pineda said after the 4-0 win over Nashville SC on August 26. "But the most important part for him, and for us, is the team and that it continues winning, and that's a great showing from him.