The league’s best young talent has continued his form from his debut season, earning his way on the shortlist for the 2018 Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player award.
Not only has Miguel Almiron remained consistent throughout the campaign, but he has had big games in which he was the leader of Atlanta United. Almirón’s movement with and without the ball, as well as the ability to earn fouls and score goals, set the tone of Atlanta’s style of play.
When Los Angeles FC came to Mercedes-Benz Stadium in April, Almirón had an MVP performance, scoring twice and earning an assist as well.
Just 17 minutes into the game, Almirón was found on the left side of the eighteen-yard box by Michael Parkhurst. The Paraguayan wasted no time making a play, taking a touch before firing a cross into the box. The ball would get past five LAFC defenders as well as force goalkeeper Tyler Miller to the ground, allowing Julian Gressel to finish at the back post into the back of the net.
When the hosts were awarded a penalty kick in the 88th minute it would be Almirón who stepped up to the spot with Josef Martínez being substituted prior. The midfielder stepped up to the ball with confidence and sent the ball out of the reach of Miller and tripling Atlanta’s lead.
A free-kick taken in stoppage time by Almirón would go on to give the Five Stripes another chance to score from the spot. The 24-year-old’s set-piece struck the hand of João Moutinho on its way to goal, allowing Almirón to score his second penalty of the night.
Offensive awareness is something that Atlanta United pride themselves on and helps them win games. No one has more than Almirón. When the Eastern Conference side took a trip to Colorado, Almirón showcased just that.
The game’s first half would see Atlanta score three unanswered goals, all with the midfielder’s help. Just ten minutes in, Almirón made a perfect run when teammate Julian Gressel had the ball on the right wing, sprinting forward but staying onside while waiting for a cross. When the ball eventually came in, Almirón had already flown past the Rapid’s defensive line, taking a touch and scoring with ease.
Almirón would link with the aforementioned Martínez in the 19th minute, doubling their team’s lead. When Martínez received the ball following a turnover, he awaited the run of Almirón, sending the ball into his path once he was free, allowing the midfielder to slot the ball home.
Passing ability is also something Almirón prides himself on and displayed that in the game’s 36th minute. From his own half, he sent Gressel down the line with a perfect ball, avoiding several Colorado defenders along the way. The pass led Gressel into loads of space, allowing him to take his time and find Hector Villaba inside the box to score.
Although Almirón does put up impressive statistics, 12 goals and 14 assists in 32 games, his contributions elsewhere on the field is the reason why Atlanta United flow so well offensively and score a league-leading 70 goals on the season. Will it, however, be enough for him to win the MLS MVP award?