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Atlanta United bracing to miss Almiron

Should Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron be forced to miss any games because of an injury sustained in Saturday’s 2-1 win against New England, the team has experience playing without him.

Almiron suffered a hamstring injury on Sept. 24 last year against Montreal and missed the next four games. The team defeated the Impact 2-0, and went 1-1-2 in the four games in which he didn’t play. He returned to play 29 minutes in the regular-season finale with Toronto.

Almiron appeared to suffer another hamstring injury around the 30th minute of Saturday’s game against New England. A team spokesman said they didn’t have a diagnoses on Sunday, saying they may have one on Monday.

 

“We learned to miss him,” Atlanta United’s Gerardo Martino said. “Sometimes with teams, the guys that are out there just have to play stronger as a team. You saw it last week with the Red Bulls. They were missing two of their most important players in (Tyler) Adams and (Bradley) Wright-Phillips. So we know that if Miguel is out, the guys around him are going to have to step up. Maybe they aren’t as talented as he is, but they will have to do it with a lot of hard work and sacrifice.”

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Because the MLS season is long, even if Almiron’s injury is more than a strain, there’s a chance he could return in time for the playoffs. Atlanta United’s first playoff game isn’t until Nov. 4. Its second would be Nov. 11. The conference finals will follow. The MLS Cup is Dec. 8, more than two months from when Almiron sustained his injury. If the injury is not serious, Atlanta United’s next game is Oct. 21 against Chicago.

Almiron is one of the best players on Atlanta United and in MLS. With 21 goals and 28 assists since the start of the 2017 season, he has developed into a player that is consistently reportedly drawing interest from clubs in Europe.

His speed, passing and work ethic are key parts in Martino’s tactics each week, whether he is the middle of a 4-2-3-1 formation, or given license to roam when the team deploys a 3-5-2 formation. Opponents consistently try to limit his touches, such is his influence on games. Some, such as the Red Bulls two weeks ago, have had success with that tactic. Most have not. 

“Everybody had to play better,” captain Michael Parkhurst said. “Miguel is a guy that we rely on heavily. He can break pressure single-handedly. If you play the ball anywhere on the field with him, he is able to dribble past one guy and create space because he is so quick (and) so fast with the ball. If we are without that for any period of time, guys will have to step up. We will have to do a little more movement on the field, connect more passes probably, because we don’t have the outlet that he provides.”

With Almiron, Atlanta United is on the verge of posting the most points in MLS since the start of the 2017 season. They need just one more point to clinch a spot in next year’s CONCACAF Champions League. They need a combination of six points won or dropped by the Red Bulls to clinch this year’s Supporters’ Shield.

“He’s Miggy, you know, like we want him on the field, but I remember last year this kind of happened as well, and we were able to still win some games without him,” Julian Gressel said. “It is what it is. We’ll move forward. We hope it’s nothing serious, and he’ll be back very soon because we want him on the field. Like I said, he brings a lot for us, but it is what it is, and we’ll just have to deal with it.”

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