Miguel Almirón’s season is best described in moments: his performance against Minnesota United in the first ever win or his hat trick against Houston. Or even, for that matter, every moment he bursts forward to launch an Atlanta United attack, the most exciting sight in Major League Soccer this year. But the stats back up the eye test, the numbers show that the debut season of Almirón, or the one they’ve dubbed “Miggy”, was one to be remembered.
There are the big stats: nine goals and 14 assists, ranking in the top five in the assist category and near the top of the league with the two stats combined. He was as consistent a provider as he was putting the final touch himself; he averaged around two shots and two chances created for his teammate in every appearance he made.
What fans remember most about Almirón’s first season was that first touch, the burst of pace to beat a defender and kick start an Atlanta United attack. His 46 dribbles completed ranked fourth-best among MLS forwards. And when the counter wasn’t on, he was the metronome of the red, black and gold attack, running the possession while poking and prodding the defense to find an opening. His 79% passing accuracy in the opponents’ half of the field ranked third among players with at least 1,000 minutes played.
There’s a valid argument that Miguel Almirón was the best two-way player in the league, contributing both offensively and defensively from the front lines. Almirón was a menace to opposing defenders – leading all MLS attackers in defensive ball recoveries with nearly 6.5 every 90 minutes – and in the top five with chances created on the attacking side of the ball.
Almirón was named MLS Player of the Week twice and was featured in the MLS Team of the Week seven times. He’s won the AT&T MLS Goal of the Week three times and was selected to the MLS All-Star game. As for the Newcomer of the Year vote, the media actually picked him second behind MLS Golden Boot winner Nemanja Nikolic. But the players and club votes swung drastically toward Almirón, with his 41% and 42% of the vote respectively more than double the second-place finisher.
Miggy’s flair at the heart of the Atlanta United attack was one of the stories of the season, and he’s getting deserved plaudits as the best newcomer to the league this year. Atlanta United fans will be eager to see the encore next season.