How will Atlanta United use Thiago Almada?

Now that Atlanta United has Thiago Almada (left), manager Gonzalo Pineda faces the challenge of figuring how to integrate him into the team. (Antonio Lacerda/AP)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

Now that Atlanta United has Thiago Almada (left), manager Gonzalo Pineda faces the challenge of figuring how to integrate him into the team. (Antonio Lacerda/AP)

Now that Atlanta United has Thiago Almada, manager Gonzalo Pineda faces the challenge of figuring how to integrate him into the MLS team.

Pineda said Wednesday that Almada can play either as an attacking midfielder or on the wing. The club could use an upgrade at both positions.

“I have to see how his connection and see how he connects with Josef (Martinez), with Luiz (Araujo) and the other players that we have around those three, and I think then we will see where is the best place for him, but I can tell you that he’s flexible,” Pineda said.

Almada, 20, is considered one of the bright young talents in South America. He scored 24 goals with 11 assists in 100 appearances for his previous club, Velez Sarsfield. Atlanta United reportedly paid $16 million to acquire him, which would break an MLS record. Almada’s value, according to, is $22 million.

Atlanta United Vice President Carlos Bocanegra said Almada is very good in the penalty box.

“He ... has a nose for goal, and that’s something we’re looking to add to the group,” Bocanegra said.

Adding Almada to an attack that includes Martinez, MLS MVP in 2018, and Araujo, who has the talent to become a league MVP, could give Atlanta United an offense more similar to what it had in 2017 and ‘18, when it scored 70 goals in those seasons, than last year, when it scored 45 in the same number of games.

Once the team returns from its preseason training camp in Guadalajara, Mexico, Almada will begin working on his visa. Because of that process, Pineda said he doesn’t yet know when Almada will be available for selection. The team has two friendlies scheduled Sunday in Mexico before it returns, and another Feb. 20 at Birmingham. The team will open its MLS season Feb. 27 against Sporting KC at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

The team currently has a few attacking midfielders – Marcelino Moreno and Emerson Hyndman – but is thin at left wing. Tyler Wolff, a Homegrown signing, has played there and done well during the preseason. It also has Machop Chol, another Homegrown, and Jake Mulraney. Pineda used Mulraney as an attacking midfielder in last week’s friendly against Mexican second-division side Celaya.

Bocanegra said he expects Almada to be impactful but tried to tamp down some expectations Wednesday.

“We expect for him to come in, work hard, be a good teammate and give his best every day,” he said. “We know what kind of quality he has. We know what he can do with the ball.”

For more content about Atlanta United

Follow me on Twitter @DougRobersonAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now

On Instagram at DouglasDavidRoberson

Atlanta United coverage on The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Southern Fried Soccer podcast can be found

Apple -

Spotify -

Google podcasts -


Atlanta United’s 2022 MLS schedule

Feb. 27 vs. Sporting KC, 3 p.m., FS1

March 5 at Colorado, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

March 13 vs. Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FS1

March 19 vs. Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 2 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 9 at Charlotte, 3 p.m., ESPN

April 16 vs. Cincinnati, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

April 24 at Miami, 1 p.m., ESPN

April 30 at Montreal, 4 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 7 vs. Chicago, 6 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

May 15 vs. New England, 2 p.m., ESPN

May 21 at Nashville, 7:30 p.m. FOX

May 28 vs. Columbus Crew, 7 p.m., BSSO/BSSE

June 19 vs Miami, 4 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, 7:30 p.m.

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