I’ve always held that Miguel Almiron is one of the top attacking midfielders in MLS. Just about anyone that watches MLS can say that probably aside from Sebastian Giovinco, the list of number 10s ahead of the Paraguayan is very short. The attacking runs, the ball skills, the defensive awareness - he has the total package.
While he had a couple of frustrating spells during Orlando (you could see it on his face), Almiron is a spark. He hasn’t been a heavy goal scorer - he’s been held without a goal since June 17 vs. Columbus Crew SC - but with a player like Josef Martinez on such a torrid pace, it’s not an absolute crisis of a situation. It’s not for lack of trying: he has registered sixteen shots (seven on goal) in the new building.
The great thing about Almiron is that even when he’s not scoring, his overall skillset means that he can help you in so many different ways. Wednesday’s match against the New England Revolution is a perfect example. Let’s take a look at this particular sequence in the first half. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez is able to get the ball to Almiron at midfield. Almiron’s first touch lets him down a little as it’s too heavy, and could have been taken the other way for a New England chance. Instead, he does a great job not giving up on the ball and is able to save possession.
Now here’s where the dazzling ball handling of Almiron comes in. Michael Parkhurst passes the ball ahead to Anton Walkes with #10 beginning to make his run out wide. Walkes sees that and passes that way, doing a nice job of getting it around the man marking him, Andrew Farrell. Almiron then makes an absolutely intoxicating run while being challenged by Farrell, with the fifth-year defender unable to do anything but hope for a mistake. The play ends with a spot-on cross in front to Josef Martinez whose shot deflected off the arm of Antonio Mlinar Delamea. It was a clear handball in the box, and the only decision referee Baldomero Toledo and VAR official Ted Unkel were really left with was whether or not to send off the defender for deliberately handling the ball to deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity.
You know the rest of the story: Mlinar was sent off, Martinez converted from the spot to finish his first-half hat trick, and the rout was on in full force.
It’s those kinds of things that have Atlanta United in the position they’re in, and as they look to finalize a playoff spot, a player like Almiron will be invaluable. Would you like to see more of him on the scoresheet? Sure. Who wouldn’t? But his entire body of work points to the fact that he is a world-class player that Atlanta are fortunate to have. However long he remains here - and he’s set to easily fetch an eight-figure transfer fee whenever that time comes - Almiron will stand among some of the city’s more iconic sports figures in recent memory.