What are Atlanta United’s options without Almiron?

Atlanta United manager Gerardo Martino has several options to replace Miguel Almiron, who is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury during Sunday's 2-0 win against Montreal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Almiron, an attacking midfielder who has nine goals and 13 assists, left after 17 minutes.

None of the players that can be used are a like-for-like replacement for Almiron, whose speed and vision have troubled most opponents this season and were among the reasons he was an MLS All-Star. However, each candidate brings something positive to the lineup should they be needed. The Atlanta United next plays Philadelphia on Wednesday and with a win becomes the first expansion team since Seattle in 2009 to secure a playoff spot.

“Well, we just have to move forward,” midfielder Jeff Larentowicz said. “The team comes together. There are plenty of guys that are itching to play. Miguel is obviously the heartbeat of our team when he’s out there. He makes so much happen for us.

“To lose him would be difficult if we do. I’m not sure about the injury but we’ll come together as a group just like we did today.”

It’s easy to predict what Martino won’t do: the 4-2-3-1 formation won’t change, so he will slot someone into Almiron’s role.

Martino subbed in Julian Gressel for Almiron after the injury. Gressel can play any of the positions in the midfield. He contributed an assist on Larentowicz’s goal in the 73rd minute. Gressel has eight assists this season, which is tied for second most for rookies in MLS history. He has 19 starts and 27 appearances.

“It is just playing the position (and) playing (to) my abilities and seeing what I can do,” Gressel said. “It’s tough for him to have the muscle injury. I haven’t seen him or talked to him but he was pretty upset coming off the field. It is never easy and you don’t want to see that happen to teammates but if it is me, then, obviously, I will try to be as good as I can and step into that role.”

Chris McCann is filling in at left fullback in place of Greg Garza, who sustained a hamstring injury three games ago against New England. If Garza returns on Wednesday, McCann can move into Almiron’s role. McCann isn’t as fast as Almiron – few players are – he has great vision and is accurate with his left foot, similar to Almiron. The maze-like runs Almiron makes won’t be replicated by either Gressel or Kratz, but the passing will be similar.

Yamil Asad can move from the left wing into the middle. Martino has switched Asad and Almiron a few times this season. Asad has six goals and 12 assists. He is a tenacious defender and, like Almiron, a tireless runner.

Kevin Kratz is also a candidate. Martino said he selected Gressel instead of Kratz to come in for Almiron because Kratz is more defensive-minded.