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.”