Can Thiago Almada get on the field in the World Cup final?
Called up at the last second as an injury replacement, Thiago Almada becomes the first active MLS player to make it to the World Cup final.
The young man from Velez Sarsfield has made an immense impact on the MLS, and now pens his name to another record. While yet to shine in Doha, playing only six minutes for his nation’s side, Thiago Almada has become the first active MLS player to reach a World Cup final.
The young attacking midfielder grew up in Fuerte Apache, a notorious slum in Buenos Aires that also produced Carlos Tevez, and was signed by Velez Sarsfield at the tender age of five. Rising through their youth academy, he was traded to Atlanta United for $16 million last year, where he instantly made his mark in the MLS by winning the Newcomer of the Year award on the back of six goals and 12 assists.
Called up to the Argentina national squad at the very last second to replace an injured Joaquín Correa, Almada has only had six minutes of playing time in the blue and white striped shirt this campaign.
Following Argentina’s 3-0 win over Croatia in the semis, Almada becomes the first active MLS player to reach the World Cup final. Should they win, he will join a short list of only 12 other MLS players to have ever hoisted the Jules Rimet trophy, and the first to do it while in MLS employment.
Argentina are on a mission, having won the trophy twice before, but not since the tainted “Hand of God” 1986 campaign. Lionel Messi is seen by many to be the best player of his generation, but the Jules Rimet is the one piece of silverware that has eluded him.
If Argentina can win it all, they will lay several ghosts to bed, but one promising note for MLS will be Thiago Almada, the first, but surely not the last, MLS product to make it to soccer’s top stage.
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