Major League Soccer today announced Atlanta United midfielder Thiago Almada as the 2022 MLS Newcomer of the Year. The award recognizes the year’s most impactful new MLS player with prior professional experience.
The club released this behind-the-scenes recording of the moment Almada was informed he had won the award.
Almada recorded a team-high 18 goal contributions in an outstanding debut season in MLS. The Argentine midfielder joined Atlanta United as a Designated Player on Feb. 9, 2022, and made his MLS debut on March 13 against Charlotte FC. 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 led the club with 12 assists this season, a figure that tied for the seventh most in the league, and added six goals. He was one of only six players in MLS to record at least 12 assists and five goals during the season. He was selected to the MLS Team of the Week on five occasions (Week 11, 13, 25, 30, and 31).
The 21-year-old produced a highlight reel of goals during the 2022 campaign, beginning with his first career MLS goal in just his second appearance with a long-range strike against Montreal on March 19 to win his first of three MLS Goal of the Week honors. He tallied a goal and an assist in consecutive matches in a pair of draws against New England on May 15 and Nashville SC on May 21. Almada won his second MLS Goal of the Week with a curling right-footed shot from the top of the box against FC Cincinnati on Aug. 13, also adding an assist in the match. He then helped lead Atlanta to back-to-back victories against Toronto FC and Orlando City SC on Sept. 10 and 14, scoring the game-winning goal in both matches and claiming his third MLS Goal of the Week, all on strikes from outside the box.
Almada becomes the second Atlanta United player to earn this award after Paraguayan international Miguel Almirón in 2017 during the club’s inaugural season. Almada emerged victorious over fellow finalists and standout newcomers Juan ‘Cucho’ Hernández (Columbus Crew) and Djordje Petrović (New England Revolution).
Almada received his first call-up and made his Argentina national team debut against Honduras in September as the team made final preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, earning praise from Argentina captain Lionel Messi. He became just the second player from MLS to earn a call-up to Argentina’s senior national team (Pity Martínez, 2019).
The Newcomer of the Year award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results.
As you can see, Almada was not rated by the voting media to near the extent that he was by other clubs and players in the league.