My co-manager, Joe Patrick, made an astute observation in his usual post-match article after the disappointing draw with the Portland Timbers. The basic point he made was that Miguel Almiron dictates whether Atlanta United succeeds or not.
That statement was conveniently supported in the Five Stripes’ 4-0 drubbing of Orlando City this past weekend. Miggy had arguably his best game of the season, scoring twice from the run of play and having a hand in another.
This season, I feel that Miggy’s form has been a bit more lackluster than in 2017. His numbers look good on paper, but before his Orlando performance, he’d only amassed two non-penalty goals all season.
Despite his up-and-down attacking form this season, Almiron never seems a detriment to the team, even in one of his “down” games. As Tata Martino perfectly explained after the Orlando match, Almiron brings so much to the table other than offensive production that he still possesses extreme value to the team.
“Miguel has a commitment to the team, I’m talking about his commitment to winning the ball back, pressing, he’s a player that’s always working. He’s an atypical number 10. Because he gives you everything that a number 10 gives you and he probably dispossesses players like a defensive midfielder.
So as a player who always works hard, he’s never absent in a game, even a game where your team isn’t dominating the offensive facet of the game. It’s very rare to find a game where he’s not... I’m going to refer to the game against Columbus. He worked like he does every game but he didn’t have as much participation offensively. The one time he did he plays in Tito for the goal to make it 2-0. I can’t find a game where his work rate isn’t showcased. Other players may play better than him, but for a coach to find a player who plays that position and that level of commitment, it’s very valuable.”
—Tata Martino; Source: Official ATLUTD Quote Sheet
It’s rare to find a player with the skill set of Miguel Almiron. Usually, a star player is either tasked with creating goals, scoring goals, or stopping goals. Miggy is extremely unique in that he can do all three and do them pretty well.
He may not be the prototypical No. 10 or the greatest finisher of chances, but what he doesn’t give you in consistency in the attacking end, he more than makes up for with his work rate and ability to recover the ball. This is why teams in Europe are hot on his tail and why so many are resigned to him not being in Atlanta for the long haul.
Miggy is a special player and it’s important to remember that he doesn’t fit the mold of your usual attacking midfielder. Appreciate him and his uniqueness while you can.