Jamal Thiare excited about Atlanta United challenge

Atlanta United fans cheer during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Atlanta. Atlanta United ties New York City FC 2 - 2.(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Atlanta United fans cheer during the first half in a MLS soccer match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Wednesday, June 21, 2023, in Atlanta. Atlanta United ties New York City FC 2 - 2.(Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Jamal Thiare was looking for a new challenge.

Not just a new team.

He wanted a new country, new language, new league. Everything.

So, though he hadn’t heard of Atlanta United when he was contacted after his contract with Le Havre in France ended, Thiare listened and researched.

“When the coach reached out to me, for me, it was a no brainer,” Thiare said Tuesday. “They sold it to me, and I couldn’t wait to come, and yeah, I can’t wait to make great things happen here.”

Thiare speaks only a bit of English. A native of Senegal, he spoke in French on Tuesday. He was helped in his first training session by teammates Tristan Muyumba and Xande Silva, who also signed during the summer transfer window and who he said he called to ask about the club when he was deciding if he would join. Muyumba and Silva each have played in France. Goalkeepers Clement Diop and Quentin Westberg also speak French.

After working out visa issues that delayed his arrival for more than a month, Thiare arrived in Atlanta on Sunday. He trained by himself that day and again Monday. Caleb Wiley described him as “super chill” and liked what he saw from him Tuesday.

Thiare said all of the newness doesn’t scare him.

“It’s definitely a new challenge,” he said. “And it doesn’t scare me, and I definitely want to make things happen for this club.”

Thiare will be expected to compete with Miguel Berry to back up Giorgos Giakoumakis, who was back with the team Tuesday after competing with Greece in its European qualifiers in Europe. Thiare, 30 years old, scored 31 goals with 18 assists in 129 appearances for Le Havre, which he helped earn promotion to Ligue 1. Thiare’s contract expired with the club. He said everything happens for a reason because it led him to being a free agent and signing with Atlanta United.

Thiare said he has since watched some of Atlanta United’s matches and liked what he saw. The team is in seventh place in the East. It will host Miami, with Lionel Messi, on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

“We’re going to take some some steps to just get back in shape fully,” he said. “After my last adventure and waiting on to that next opportunity, which is Atlanta United today. I did not do much for a couple of months. So now that I am back, I definitely want to give it my all and yeah, and give that last shot for the end of the season.”

Arriving: Thiago Almada who was with Argentina U23s, was scheduled to return Tuesday afternoon. Other players who were with national teams, a group that includes Miles Robinson, Saba Lobjanidze, Luis Abram and Derrick Etienne, are expected to rejoin the team Wednesday.

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Atlanta United’s 2023 MLS schedule

Feb. 25 Atlanta United 2, San Jose Earthquakes 1

March 4 Atlanta United 1, Toronto FC 1

March 11 Atlanta United 3, Charlotte FC 0

March 18 Atlanta United 5, Portland 1

March 25 Columbus 6, Atlanta United 1

April 1 Atlanta United 1, New York Red Bulls 0

April 8 Atlanta United 1, New York City FC 1

April 15 Atlanta United 2, Toronto FC 2

April 23 Atlanta United 2, Chicago 1

April 29 Nashville SC 3, Atlanta United 1

May 6 Inter Miami CF 2, Atlanta United 1

May 13 Charlotte 3, Atlanta United 1

May 17 Atlanta United 4, Colorado 0

May 20 Atlanta United 3, Chicago 3

May 27 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

May 31 Atlanta United 3, New England 3

June 7 Atlanta United 0, LAFC 0

June 10 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 1

June 21 Atlanta United 2, New York City 2

June 24 New York Red Bulls 4, Atlanta United 0

July 2 Atlanta United 2, Philadelphia 0

July 8 Atlanta United 1, Montreal 0

July 12 New England 2, Atlanta United 1

July 15 Orlando City 2, Atlanta United 1

July 25 Miami 4, Atlanta United 0 in Leagues Cup

July 29 Cruz Azul 1 (5), Atlanta United (4) 1 in Leagues Cup

Aug. 20 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 0

Aug. 26 Atlanta United 4, Nashville 0

Aug. 30 Cincinnati 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 2 Atlanta United 2, FC Dallas 2

Sept. 16 vs. Inter Miami CF, 5 p.m.

Sept. 20 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 23 vs. CF Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 at Philadelphia Union, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 7 vs. Columbus Crew, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 21 at FC Cincinnati, TBA