Patience and perseverance mark Almirón’s journey to Atlanta United

Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almirón is part of a new wave of international players coming to Major League Soccer. Signing as a Young Designated Player in December, the 23-year-old from Asuncion, Paraguay, features top-level speed and creativity that have made him a crucial piece to the team.

The move to Atlanta came as a surprise, Almirón said.  He was happy and comfortable with Lanús, who were coming off a championship season in Argentina, and Almirón wasn’t thinking about a transfer.  However, he said it was an honor for Atlanta United to notice him and he didn’t hesitate to accept the offer once it came.

“I heard that the club was interested in me and I saw it as a good opportunity to grow as a player and help this club that wants to win titles,” Almirón said. “We work with humility and sacrifice. This team is here to fight with all the best teams.”

Once Miguel started to see the infrastructure of the club it only made him more interested in coming to Atlanta. While he said he hopes to have family and friends come and see the facilities, Atlanta’s number 10 said he’s trying to enjoy the experience as much as possible, and is trying to help the club fight for big things this year.

“I think the club is preparing to achieve important things, and that’s important, to have big goals. And the community here is very nice. You can play calmly, you’re not missing anything, and that’s important for a player, to be only concerned about playing. I think that influences why so many players want to come to MLS, and of course the soccer is getting more competitive and everybody can see that.”

He’s made the adjustment to MLS look easy thus far and says that having other South Americans on the roster has helped that process, both on and off the field. But things haven’t always gone so smoothly during his young career. Despite being told by his U15 coach at Cerro Porteño in Paraguay that he was too skinny and that the coach never intended to play him, Almirón said he never imagined doing anything other than playing soccer. After talking things over with his parents, Almirón decided to stay at the club, patiently waiting for his chance. He played once that season, and played well, but his coach never put him in again. He spent two years training hard without seeing much game action until he moved up to the U17 squad coached by Hernan Acuña.

“He gave me an opportunity. He started to play me,” Almirón said. “Thanks to him I got game-time, and after that I got called up to the Paraguayan youth national teams and I started to move up. I went through some tough times but thanks to patience and perseverance I’m here now.”

He made his professional debut in 2013 with Cerro Porteño and spent three years there. He then played for Argentine club Lanús from 2015-2016 before joining Atlanta in December. When asked about the fans and the stadium atmosphere in his new home city, Almirón is quick to praise the support.

“It’s very special. I didn’t imagine so many people in a stadium. I’ve always admired that. What impressed me most was the first game when we lost against the Red Bulls and the fans still applauded us. We’re not used to that. I feel very happy here and I hope to repay the club and fans for their support with my play on the field.”