Fusion hadn’t made an appearance at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, or in any other MLS stadium, in almost eight weeks.
So, after Miguel Almiron scored his first goal since hitting the net twice against Orlando on June 30, there was a collective sigh among teammates and the Five Stripes supporters. Almiron scored in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win against Columbus on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to end the drought. The goal was followed by he and Josef Martinez breaking out the goal celebration that is a tribute to the cartoon series Dragon Ball Z.
“I think he's going to be much calmer from this point on,” manager Gerardo Martino said. “I think he had been suffering a little bit from not being able to score. But I think he's going to be calm and it's going to help us as we move forward."
Suffering may be a kind description for what Almiron was experiencing.
After Week 25, only Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco has taken more shots than Almiron this season (118-110). Giovinco has just eight goals to Almiron’s nine. For an efficiency comparison, Martinez’s 27 goals have come from 72 shots.
In most games, Almiron’s goal would be talked about as an impressive piece of skill -- a low, left-footed shot from 20 yards that was tucked neatly into a lower corner. As nice as it was, Martinez’ left-footed curler from 18 yards and Hector Villalba’s half-field run through Columbus’ defense will likely be remembered more fondly.
But the goal may open the floodgates for Almiron, who has consistently worked himself into goal-scoring situations. He just hasn’t been able to score. It’s been an issue going back to the preseason when he missed several chances.
Though the goals haven’t come, Almiron has still been effective.
The Paraguayan has 11 assists this season. His work defensively is underrated. When he gets the ball, he pressures a defense unlike most players in MLS. He just hasn’t been able to turn those runs into goals.
Now, the pressure may be off.
“I’m happy for him because I think he’s been suffering lately,” Martinez said. “I don’t remember the last time he’s scored, but I know it’s been a while. I think he’s been feeling some of the pressure, so I was happy for him. I think it’s important for him to have the patience and perseverance to get that goal.”