Thiago Almada helping Atlanta United in its playoff push

ORLANDO, Fla. — Thiago Almada has scored two goals and added an assist in the past two games. Atlanta United won both games, including Wednesday’s 1-0 victory at Orlando for the team’s first two-game win streak in MLS this season. For the season, Almada has six goals and leads the team with 11 assists.

The good form coincides with Almada being selected to join Argentina for its upcoming pre-World Cup training camp.

“Being on this club by itself is motivation and also trying to get to the playoffs,” he said. “Obviously, being on the national team is a dream of every kid. It’s a reward of what I’ve been doing since I turned professional or even before then. Yeah, that’s the dream of anyone is to play for the national team.”

Almada will play one more important game against Philadelphia on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium for Atlanta United before he flies to Miami on Sunday to join Argentina. In the past two games, he has created five chances, taken eight shots and put five on target. His goal against Toronto was a rocket from more than 20 yards away into the upper right corner. His goal against Orlando was a deft touch from a few yards away into the lower left corner.

With Wednesday’s win, Atlanta United trails the fifth- and sixth-place teams in the East by three points with three games remaining. It trails the seventh-place team by two points. The top seven teams will advance to the playoffs. Because the teams it is chasing have four games remaining, it is still statistically improbable that the Five Stripes will qualify for the postseason for the fifth time in six seasons.

“I think the team is playing better and understanding each other better,” Almada said. “These two wins give us confidence.”

Santiago Sosa said on Tuesday that he is happy for Almada’s selection. He agreed that it is a compliment to MLS, and an inspiration for Argentinians in MLS, that manager Lionel Scaloni is paying attention to players in the league.

Atlanta United manager Gonzalo Pineda said Almada is a tremendous player with a lot of potential.

“He’s taking the responsibility over his shoulders, and he has responded very well,” Pineda said. “We cannot forget that he’s very young, but his personality, his shoulders are big. And he’s taken the responsibility in the final third to impact the game. And he’s doing a fantastic job. And I hope he can continue with this type of performances because now we need him the most.”

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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 Columbus 2, Atlanta United 1

June 19 Atlanta United 2, Miami 0

June 25 Toronto 2, Atlanta United 1

June 30 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

July 3 Atlanta United 2, NYCFC 2

July 9 Austin 3, Atlanta United 0

July 13 Atlanta United 2, Real Salt Lake 1

July 17 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 1

July 24 L.A. Galaxy 2, Atlanta United 0

July 30 Atlanta United 0, Chicago 0

Aug. 6 Atlanta United 2, Seattle 1

Aug. 13 Atlanta United 2, Cincinnati 2

Aug. 17 New York Red Bulls 2, Atlanta United 1

Aug. 21 Atlanta United 2, Columbus 2

Aug. 28 Atlanta United 3, D.C. United 2

Aug. 31 Philadelphia 4, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 4 Portland 2, Atlanta United 1

Sept. 10 Atlanta United 4, Toronto 2

Sept. 14 Atlanta United 1, Orlando 0

Sept. 17 vs. Philadelphia, 3:30 p.m., UniMas

Oct. 1 at New England, 1:30 p.m., UniMas