Thiago Almada Is First Active MLS Player to Make FIFA World Cup Final

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For the first time ever, Major League Soccer will be represented in a World Cup Final.

Atlanta United FC midfielder Thiago Almada became the first active MLS player to reach a World Cup Final when Argentina defeated Croatia in the semifinals. The Argentinean was previously just the second player from MLS to reach the World Cup semis, joining Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who was on loan at Toronto FC, in 2014.

Almada was a late addition to La Albiceleste’s World Cup squad, being called up by manager Lionel Scaloni as an injury replacement for Joaquin Correa just days before the tournament began. He was one of 36 MLS players named to a 2022 World Cup roster.

Almada has gone on to make one appearance in Qatar, logging six minutes of action as a substitute in Argentina’s 2-0 win over Poland in the group stage finale.

The 21-year-old Almada is the most expensive player in MLS history. He joined Atlanta from Velez Sarsfield in February for a league-record fee of $16 million.

In his debut season, Almada tallied six goals and 12 assists over 29 games en route to earning the MLS Newcomer of the Year award.

A total of 12 players with MLS experience on their résumé have hoisted the World Cup trophy. But on Sunday against France, Almada has the chance to be the first active MLS player to do so.

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