MLS came back with a bang over the weekend – as did Atlanta United star midfielder Thiago Almada, the Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire for Matchday 1 of the 2023 season.
In his first official appearance since helping Argentina win the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the 21-year-old playmaker raised his global profile even more on Saturday night by belting not one, but two stoppage-time golazos to turn a 1-0 loss into a dramatic 2-1 win for the Five Stripes over the San Jose Earthquakes.
Almada, the 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year, became just the fourth player in league history to score both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the 90th minute or later. Current Seattle Sounders FC midfielder Albert Rusnák, then with Real Salt Lake, was the last to achieve said feat during the 2018 season.
The Vélez Sarsfield product, who arrived last year as a league-record signing (reported $16 million), also made Atlanta United history by joining Josef Martínez, Miguel Almirón and Héctor Villalba as the only players in club history with 20 goal contributions in their first 30 MLS games. At exactly 21 years and 308 days, Almada is the youngest player in the league with at least 20 combined goals and assists since the start of the 2022 season.
The Five Stripes return to action on Saturday when hosting Eastern Conference rivals Toronto FC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (7:30 pm 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. NASR consists of members of print, television, radio, and online media.