Argentina’s Scaloni sees Atlanta United’s Thiago Almada developing in MLS

Thiago Almada’s development in MLS with Atlanta United may result in more young standouts from Argentina joining the league.

Almada, part of Argentina’s team that won the 2022 World Cup, scored five goals to help Argentina’s Under-23 team qualify for this summer’s Olympics. Almada captained the team in its 1-0 victory over Brazil in the finals in Venezuela on Sunday.

“In recent years, the MLS has improved a lot and has started to look at young boys with great projection and who are very talented,” Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni said. “The case of Thiago, (Alan) Velasco and many, many more. I think I’m optimist, I see a growing league and that youngsters can contribute to the growth. And why not, as we have seen, the case of Thiago, has been called to the (national team) and has been world champion. I think it’s a competitive league that’s going, it’s going to get bigger, so I don’t see it as an impediment to being able to be in the national team.”

Almada scored 11 goals with 19 assists for Atlanta United last season, his second with the club. He was a finalist for MLS MVP and was named Young Player of the Year. Almada is expected to rejoin Atlanta United in a few days ahead of its season-opening match at Columbus on Feb. 24.

“We knew Thiago before we had him in the youth teams,” Scaloni said. “We knew very well his quality, his style of play. Well, the decision in this case was not difficult because he is a player who associates very well, who plays very well with the ball and who fits our team very well. So well, his addition was very good, besides being a great player, he is a great kid, very professional, and for us it is a great pleasure to have him.”

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Atlanta United’s 2024 schedule

Feb. 24 at Columbus, 2 p.m.

March 9 vs. New England, 7:30 p.m.

March 17 vs. Orlando, 7 p.m., FS1

March 23 at Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

March 31 vs. Chicago, 3:30 p.m., FOX

April 6 at NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

April 14 vs. Philadelphia, 2:30 p.m., FOX

April 20 vs. Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

April 27 at Chicago, 8:30 p.m.

May 4 vs. Minnesota, 7:30 p.m.

May 11 vs. D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

May 15 at Cincinnati, 7:30 p.m.

May 18 at Nashville, 1:30 p.m.

May 25 vs. LAFC, 7:30 p.m.

May 29 at Miami, 7:30 p.m.

June 2 vs Charlotte, 4:30 p.m., FOX

June 15 vs. Houston, 7:30 p.m.

June 19 at D.C. United, 7:30 p.m.

June 22 at St. Louis, 8:30 p.m.

June 29 vs. Toronto, 7:30 p.m.

July 3 at New England, 7:30 p.m.

July 6 at Real Salt Lake, 9:30 p.m.

July 13 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

July 17 vs. NYCFC, 7:30 p.m.

July 20 vs. Columbus, 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 24 at L.A. Galaxy, 10:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 5 vs. Red Bulls, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Orlando, 6 p.m.