Alright, so let's think happy thoughts. An emotional Miguel Almiron left last night's match against the Montreal Impact with an apparent hamstring injury. Tata Martino said in the post-match press conference that Almiron will see a doctor later today to "assess the damage".
So with that being said, it's never a bad thing to plan ahead. Even if it isn't a terribly serious injury, we can assume that he likely won't play again until at least after the international break. That would mean Miggy would miss three matches against the Philadelphia Union, New England Revolution, and Minnesota United, and return to play the New York Red Bulls on October 15th. If it does end up being more than that(hopefully not, but you know, just in case), it makes that #2 seed in the East and the first round playoff bye that accompanies it even more important. Let's give our players all the rest they can get.
Now what's Atlanta's best option to replace one of, if not the most important player in the club? It's something we've only really seen once this season, but that showing was convincing enough to give it a go for the duration of Almiron's absence.
During the first meeting between Atlanta and Philadelphia, Yamil Asad played as a central attacking midfielder for a good bit of the match. This was an adjustment made by Martino, where he essentially switched Asad and Almiron so as to give Miggy more room to operate on the wing rather than a cluttered Philadelphia midfield. Not only was Asad great as a CAM, he was without question Atlanta's best player that night.
The obvious choice would be to do what Martino did last night and just plug Julian Gressel into the central spot while keeping Asad on the wing. That's certainly an option, but Gressel's shown throughout the season that he is much more efficient on the right wing than he is centrally.
It's worth noting that in this scenario, I would have Tito Villalba playing on the left as an inverted winger. This has a lot to do with the two rockets we've seen him score this season. Think about how those two goals came about. Villalba received the ball on the left side of the pitch and used his pace to glide by opposing players en route to igniting Twitter on fire. Let's give him more opportunities to do that. That's another extension of Atlanta's play that should be exploited more.
Here's what the XI would look like with Asad at CAM.
And here's what it would look like with Gressel.
The nice thing about Atlanta is that they have options, and that can't be said for many MLS sides. Still, get well soon Miggy. We need your smile of death out there.
What do you all think? Let us know in the comments.