Thiago Almada enjoyed a wondrous first month for Atlanta United. (Photo courtesy of Atlanta United)
Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada was voted the Major League Soccer Player of the Month for February/March 2023, it was announced on Thursday.
Almada started 2023 off in sensational form, scoring four goals and adding four assists in the first four matches of the season as Atlanta went 3-0-1 during that span. With his start to the season, Almada became the first player in MLS history to produce at least four goals and four assists in the first four games of a season. His eight goal contributions (four goals, four assists) are the most in MLS this season, despite playing in only four games.
The 21-year-old opened the season in tremendous fashion against the San Jose Earthquakes when he scored the game-tying goal in the 93rd minute and the game-winning goal from a direct free kick in the 99th minute to give Atlanta a 2-1 victory. Almada became the fourth player in MLS history to score both a game-tying and game-winning goal in the 90th minute or later, and the first to accomplish the feat since Real Salt Lake’s Albert Rusnák in 2018 (August 18 vs. Houston Dynamo FC). His free kick goal in the 99th minute was the latest game-winner in Atlanta United annals and also the latest game-winning direct free kick score in MLS since 2003.
On Matchday 2, Almada recorded the game-tying assist against Toronto FC and then added the game-winning assist at Charlotte FC on Matchday 3 as part of the club’s convincing 3-0 victory. He finished the month of March in style by scoring two goals and adding two assists in the 5-1 victory over the Portland Timbers on Matchday 4. Almada joined Yamil Asad (9/20/2017 vs. the LA Galaxy) as the only players in Five Stripes history with two goals and two assists in a single match. One of his two goals against the Timbers was a world-class direct free kick (Watch Here), becoming the only player in MLS to score multiple direct free kicks in 2023.
Since May 1 2022, Almada’s 16 assists are the second most in MLS, behind only FC Cincinnati’s Luciano Acosta (19). In that time span, his 25 goal contributions (nine goals, 16 assists) are the fourth most in the league, trailing Dániel Gazdag (30), Hany Mukhtar (30) and Acosta (26). Despite playing just 33 games for Atlanta, the 21-year-old already ranks seventh in club history with 26 career goal contributions (10 goals, 16 assists).
Almada joins Miguel Almirón (one time) and Josef Martínez (six times) as the only players in Five Stripes history to win MLS Player of the Month. At 21 years and 338 days old, the World Cup winner becomes the youngest player to earn the honor since Daryl Dike (20 years, 98 days) for the month of August in 2020. Almada also became the fifth player in MLS history to win MLS Player of the Matchday presented by Continental Tire 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).
With Almada returning from the Argentina national team, Atlanta will look to regain the top spot in the Eastern Conference when it hosts the New York Red Bulls at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Matchday 6 on Saturday, April 1 (7:30 p.m. ET, MLS Season Pass, 92.9 The Game, La Mejor).
MLS Player of the Month is voted upon by a panel of select national media members in a process conducted by MLS Communications.