MLS Player to the World CupMLS Player to the World Cup

The growth of Major League Soccer continues to be highlighted, and the 2022 World Cup only strengthens that case.
Heading into the tournament, 36 MLS players were listed on the rosters of the players competing in Qatar. Some of the more notable ones included players who have already made a name for themselves on the world stage, such as Hector Herrera, Xherdan Shaqiri, and Gareth Bale. But for anyone who pays close attention to the league, many great younger players continue to show how far MLS has progressed in its 28-year history.
Thiago Almada of Atlanta United becomes the first active MLS player to make it to the World Cup final between Argentina and France or Morocco, marking yet another significant moment for the league.
World Cup champions have made MLS their home they made it, including France’s Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls, 2010-14), Blaise Matuidi (Inter Miami, 2020-21) and Youri Djorkaeff (Red Bulls, 2005-06; Brazil’s Kaká (Orlando City, 2014-17); Italy’s Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC, 2015-17); Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire, 2017-19) and Torsten Frings (Toronto FC, 2011-12); Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuaín (Inter Miami, 2020-22); and Spain’s David Villa (NYCFC, 2014-18). However, none of them were active in the league when they made it to the finals, unlike Almada.

The 21-year-old midfielder, who this past season won the MLS Newcomer of the Year award, has a promising career ahead of him. Just a few months ago, when his senior international career with Argentina began, even that was a momentous occasion. In a friendly match against Honduras on September 23, Almada came on in the 54th minute and played for most of the second half alongside Lionel Messi and Co. When asked about Almada following the 3-0 victory, Messi gave him high marks, saying: “He’s very fast, and he has a lot of 1-v-1 ability. He’s very clever, and he’s not afraid of anything. He goes at you.”
Almada is on the verge of making significant history as the first active MLS player to win the World Cup, despite being added to Argentina’s team as an injury replacement and only making one appearance for a brief period against Poland.
Remember the name because, win or lose, you’ll probably hear it a lot in the future, including at the tournament in 2026.