NEW YORK (Monday, March 13, 2023) – Atlanta United defender Caleb Wiley was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 3 of the 2023 MLS season.
Wiley scored two goals and assisted on a third, all in the first half, of the club’s 3-0 victory on the road at Charlotte FC on Saturday, March 11 (Watch Highlights from His Performance Here). At 18 years and 79 days old, Wiley became the fourth-youngest player in MLS history to produce at least three goal contributions in a single half of a match and the youngest since Alphonso Davies (17 years, 268 days old) recorded two goals and two assists on July 28, 2018, vs. Minnesota United FC. The Homegrown defender was also the youngest player in MLS history to produce at least two goals and one assist in the first half of a game, besting former FC Dallas forward Ricardo Pepi (18 years, 232 days on August 29, 2021).
In the fifth minute of the match, Atlanta forced a turnover and midfielder Thiago Almada dribbled the ball through the Charlotte defense before finding Wiley in loads of space. The 18-year-old did the rest by firing his shot over the goalkeeper to open the scoring (Watch Here). Wiley then turned creator seven minutes later as he evaded a defender and played a perfect outside-of-the-foot pass to Luiz Araújo, who took a touch into the 18-yard-box and struck a left-footed shot past the Charlotte goalkeeper (Watch Here). In the second minute of first-half stoppage time, Araújo’s diagonal pass deflected off a Charlotte player and settled for Wiley to slot underneath the diving goalkeeper for a 3-0 lead (Watch Here).
After producing two goals and an assist, Wiley has already matched his single-season high (three) for goal contributions, which he produced last year in 26 appearances. He is the sixth-youngest player in MLS history to record at least three goal contributions in a single match. Wiley is also the youngest player in Atlanta United history to score at least two goals in a match, eclipsing Ezequiel Barco (20 years, 15 days on April 13, 2019 at New England).
Wiley becomes the second Atlanta United player to win MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire this season, joining Thiago Almada (Matchday 1). Atlanta United and Seattle Sounders FC (2021) are the only clubs since 2010 to have different players win two of the first three Player of the Matchday honors to start a season and it is only the seventh such occurrence in MLS history – Seattle (2021 and 2009), Columbus Crew (2005 and 2003), Kansas City Wizards (2001), and Tampa Bay Mutiny (1997). At 18 years and 81 days today, Wiley is the sixth-youngest player to win the award in MLS history behind Freddy Adu (15 years, 342 days), Santino Quaranta (16 years, 275 days), Cade Cowell (17 years, 201 days), Alphonso Davies, (17 years, 222 days), and Jozy Altidore (17 years, 288 days).
The Five Stripes will look to go unbeaten in their first four matches of a season for the first time in club history when they host the Portland Timbers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Matchday 4 on Saturday, March 18 (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass).
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.