Position: Attacking midfield
Games Played: 32 starts
What went right this season?
Miguel Almiron was so good in 2018 that he became a meme. MLS needs more memes, people would pay attention to the league if more of this happened all the time:
That’s easily the most important thing that’s happened at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park that didn’t involve an orange visibility ball.
Anyway, the Atlanta attacker had a near perfect 2018. Quite simply, he did everything for the Five Stripes from springing attacks, setting up teammates for scoring chances, and running past every defender in MLS like they were Chad Marshall. Almiron was impossible to defend against and the heartbeat of the Atlanta attack. But it wasn’t just his ability to seemingly run faster with the ball at his feet than without it, Miggy put in work when Atlanta didn’t have the ball also, tracking back, helping to win the ball and then cycle the ball to the central midfielders or push forward to set up a play in transition, his energy and workrate was inhuman in 2018.
Almiron’s stats and contribution to the team saw him rank at number two behind Josef Martinez in MLS MVP voting. The midfielder was the most important player for the Five Stripes and should he be sold onto Europe for tens of millions of dollars, his efforts will also help solidify the finances of the club.
What does he need to improve on?
Finishing (I’m sensing a theme here). It’s hard to complain about a player’s finishing when his team scores 70 goals a year and won MLS Cup, but Miggy struggled at times in front of the net at times in 2018. Specifically, there was a stretch of 17 games where he scored just two goals despite taking 46 shots between May 5th and August 4th. On one hand, working to get himself into position to take 132 shots is impressive, on the other a better conversion rate may have seen him win the MVP award.
What role will he play in 2019?
Well... we’re clearly not sure, but the feeling is that he’s on his way to Europe to make his way for another South American attacker. If that is the case, he’ll have set a high bar for the new wave of Designated Players who have hit the league in recent years and he’ll have helped transform not only the club, but the entire league.
Overall Player Grade: A+