Almada finished with two chances created and two shots, one on goal. His goal came when Ronaldo Cisneros forced goalkeeper Joe Willis to hurry a pass that Moreno intercepted near the top of the box. He patiently waited on teammates to arrive before he found Almada sprinting into the box to one-time a shot in the 26th minute. It was his third goal in an MLS game.
“I remember, at times, I was criticized by putting him just at the end of the games and not starting him right away. And I said at some point you will see that this will work."
- manager Gonzalo Pineda, on Thiago Almada
Almada’s assist, his third in a league game, came on a smartly hit chip to Brooks Lennon at the back post. Lennon played the ball across to Dwyer for his second goal and earned the team a valuable point on the road. It improved to 1-4-1 away from Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The team will host Columbus on May 28.
Pineda said Almada’s increased production is part of the plan put together when the team acquired him from Velez Sarsfield for a reported $16 million before the season.
Pineda chose to integrate Almada slowly into the starting 11. He didn’t start until the season’s fifth game at D.C. United. He has started the seven league games since. All of his goals and assists have come in the past five games.
“I would say that it took a little bit of a while to really express himself properly,” Pineda said. “I remember, at times, I was criticized by putting him just at the end of the games and not starting him right away. And I said at some point you will see that this will work.”
Another reason for Almada’s recent success is the result of familiarity with his teammates and Pineda’s decision to use him mostly as an attacking midfielder, instead of on the wing, which is where he played a lot earlier this season. Almada, Moreno, Luiz Araujo and Cisneros have started each of the past four games across all competitions. They have combined to score eight of the team’s past 10 goals.
In addition to Almada’s good work, Pineda complimented Moreno. He finished with a team-high five chances created and tied for second on completed passes in the final third (12), behind Almada (14).
Playing in the middle of the field, Almada is very good at finding spaces between the midfielders and centerbacks, which puts pressure on opponents. He’s quick enough to turn and escape if he needs. He also has the vision to bring defenders to him and then release the ball to an open teammate. And he’s a capable scorer. He finished with an expected-goals total of 0.41 against Nashville. It was the second highest on the team.
“There are not many number 10s (attacking midfielder) in the world,” Pineda said. “And we are happy having one of those few in our team.”
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Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule
Feb. 27 Atlanta United 3, Sporting KC 1
March 5 Colorado 3, Atlanta United 0
March 13 Atlanta United 2, Charlotte 1
March 19 Atlanta United 3, Montreal 3
April 2 Atlanta United 1, D.C. United 0
April 10 Charlotte 1, Atlanta United 0
April 16 Atlanta United 0, Cincinnati 0
April 24 Miami 2, Atlanta United 1
April 30 Montreal 2, Atlanta United 1
May 7 Atlanta United 4, Chicago 1
May 15 Atlanta United 2, New England 2
May 21 Atlanta United 2, Nashville 2
May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 19 vs. Miami, 3 p.m., ESPN2
June 25 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
June 30 at New York Red Bulls, 8 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 3 at NYCFC, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 9 vs. Austin, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 13 vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
July 17 vs. Orlando, 3 p.m., ABC
July 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 9:30 p.m., FS1
July 30 at Chicago, 5 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 6 vs. Seattle, 3 p.m., ABC
Aug. 13 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m. BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 17 vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Aug. 21 at Columbus, 6 p.m., FS1
Aug. 28 vs. D.C. United, 4 p.m., UNIV
Aug. 31 at Philadelphia, 7 p.m., FS1
Sept. 4 at Portland, 5:30 p.m., FOX
Sept. 10 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept. 14 at Orlando, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE
Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 1 at New England, 1 p.m., UniMas
Oct. 9 vs. NYCFC, TBD, BSSO/BSSE