Atlanta United announced on Feb. 9, 2022 the signing of Thiago Almada from Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield of the Argentine first division to a contract through 2025. Almada is a Young Designated Player and occupies an international roster spot.
Almada, 21, became the first active MLS player to win a FIFA World Cup as he was part of Argentina’s squad at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar that defeated France on penalties in the final.
The midfielder made a big impact in his first season in MLS, becoming the second Atlanta United player to win MLS Newcomer of the Year after leading Atlanta United in assists (12) and finishing tied for third on the team in goals scored (six) in the 2022 campaign. The Argentine made his Atlanta United debut as a substitute against Charlotte FC on March 13. In the next match, Almada came off the bench against CF Montréal and scored his first MLS goal with a high-speed shot from outside the box. He started 25 of his 29 MLS appearances and recorded four games with at least a goal and an assist, tied for the most in a single season in club history. Almada was one of only six players in MLS to record at least 12 assists and five goals during the season. He was named to the MLS Team of the Week five times during 2022, including back-to-back on Sept. 12 and 15. He also won Goal of the Week three times in Weeks 4, 25 and 30.
Almada recorded 24 goals and 11 assists in 100 matches for Vélez Sarsfield across all competitions. After passing through the club’s youth ranks, the Ciudadela, Argentina native made his professional debut at the age of 17 in a league match against Newell’s Old Boys on Aug. 11, 2018. He made 21 appearances in all competitions during the 2018-2019 season, including 16 in league play, scoring four goals and adding two assists. Almada then made 41 appearances in 2019-2020 and recorded 11 goals and three assists, including four goals and an assist in 22 Liga Profesional matches and four goals and an assist in eight appearances in the Copa Sudamericana.
In his final season at Vélez Sarsfield, Almada made 38 total appearances and tallied nine goals and six assists. He made 32 combined appearances in the Liga Profesional and the Copa de la Liga and scored seven goals with six assists. He also scored two goals in six Copa Libertadores matches as Vélez Sarsfield advanced to the Round of 16 of the competition.
2022 (Atlanta United): Started 26 of his 31 appearances across all competitions, recording seven goals and 12 assists. MLS: Won 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year. Started 25 of his 29 MLS appearances, logging 2,373 minutes. Led Atlanta United in assists (12) and finished tied for third on the team in goals scored (six). Scored his first MLS goal against Montreal with a shot from outside the box on March 19. Ended the season as one of only six players in MLS to record at least 12 assists and five goals during the season. Named to the MLS Team of the Week five times during 2022, including back-to-back on Sept. 12 and 15. Won Goal of the Week three times in Weeks 4, 25 and 30. U.S. Open Cup: Started one of his two appearances. Started and scored a goal against Nashville SC in the Fourth Round.
International: Almada became the first active MLS player to win a FIFA World Cup as he was part of the Argentina squad at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which defeated France in penalties in an epic final that ended 3-3 after regulation and extra-time. The 21-year-old made one appearance in the tournament, entering as a substitute against Poland in the group stage. He earned his first call-up to Argentina’s senior national team for two friendlies in September 2022 against Honduras and Jamaica as Argentina prepared for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making his debut against Honduras. He also made seven appearances for Argentina’s U-20s, scoring one goal, and three appearances with the U-23s. The midfielder also represented Argentina at the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he made two appearances and had one assist.