To the surprise of absolutely no one, Thiago Almada took home AT&T Goal of the Matchday honors for his match-winning free kick in the 99th minute of Atlanta United’s 2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday. The goal won 38.3% of the vote per MLS, beating out Austin FC’s Sebastian Driussi (16.7%) and St. Louis CITY SC’s Joao Klauss (13.8%), as well as Almada’s equalizer from distance minutes prior (31.2%).
Almada’s first goal, a blistering effort from a Brooks Lennon corner kick that caromed off the bottom of the crossbar and past Quakes debutant goalkeeper Daniel, would have been well positioned for the honor by itself. But he topped himself moments last after Derrick Etienne won a last-gasp free kick well within shooting range. Almada then fired it goalward past a lunging Daniel and into the back of the net as Atlanta completed an improbable comeback.
Almada’s heroics happened nearly 10 weeks to the day of Lionel Messi and Argentina winning their 1st World Cup in 36 years courtesy of a thrilling final against France. A late add to Lionel Scaloni’s squad, Almada’s only action in the tournament was as an 84th-minute substitute in La Albiceleste’s 2-0 group stage win over Poland. That said, even making it on the plane to Qatar significantly increased the value of a young player that has thus far made waves in MLS — and on Saturday, he came through with his most thrilling moment yet in an Atlanta United kit.