Argentina vs France: Thiago Almada makes MLS history at the World Cup, and he deserves it

With Argentina on course for the final, Thiago Almada is the first Major League Soccer player to qualify for the big game. The Atlanta United attacking midfielder has registered just six minutes as an injury substitute for the team, but at 21 he is a rising star having been in the youth squads. While other MLS players have already appeared in World Cup finals like David Villa, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Kaka and others, Almada is the first to do so as an active MLS player.

The former Velez Sarsfield man, from the Fuerte Apache neighborhood of Buenos Aires, like Carlos Tevez, has only made one appearance so far, coming late in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland to clinch Group C.

Almada’s inclusion in the Argentina squad, even as an injury replacement, shows the growing stature of Major League Soccer around the world As Atlanta United struggled last season, Almada shone in their inaugural season , winning the Newcomer of the Year award. Almada scored six goals and assisted seven more in the league (12 assists including assists) after joining Velez Sarsfield.

Joining MLS, Almada is the most expensive inbound transfer at $16 million, and he’s proven to be worth every penny. Despite interest from Europe, Almada joined Atlanta United as his ability to improve young players and move them abroad showed, mainly with the success of Miguel Almiron at Newcastle United. Almiron has eight goals and one assist for the Magpies this season, and after two seasons in Atlanta after leaving Lanus – also in Argentina – Almiron was able to make the jump to England.

Almada may not need another season in Atlanta for the World Cup squad to get more eyes on him, and the success of Argentina’s other young stars will only enhance his reputation. Age was not an obstacle for Lionel Scaloni who called on talented players since five players under the age of 24 were part of the Argentine team during this World Cup. Almada may not be where midfielders like Enzo Fernandez and Alexis Mac Allister are right now, but as one of the best creative midfielders in MLS there’s nothing to say he won’t be able to. not get there in the future.

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Almada is the second MLS player to be called up to Argentina, joining former Atlanta United midfielder Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez. Connecting the dots between Almada, Martinez and Almiron – one thing is clear and that is that the Five Stripes know their stuff when it comes to scouting in Argentina.

After a friendly against Honduras in September where Almada made his senior debut for the Albiceleste, Lionel Messi was asked about Almada and heaped praise saying: “He’s very fast and he has a lot of ability in his head. He’s very smart and he’s not afraid of anything. He’s going after you.

While Messi could win his first World Cup title on Sunday when Argentina take on France, it’s also a chance for Almada to make history as the first player to win the World Cup while playing. actively in MLS. Even looking at the list of World Cup winners who have played in MLS, it’s a fairly esteemed group that Almada could join with representatives Kaka, Schweinsteiger, Andrea Pirlo and Thierry Henry. That’s quite a list for a talented youngster to join, and it shows that the sky is the limit for Almada.

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