Atlanta United's 'heartbeat' Miguel Almiron to miss at least three weeks
Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron will miss at least three weeks with a hamstring injury, the MLS club said on Monday.
Almiron picked up the injury in the first half of Atlanta's 2-0 win over Montreal on Sunday and was replaced by Julian Gressel in the 17th minute.
The 23-year-old Paraguay international is now set to miss at least four of United's final five games of the regular season. He could return in time for the season finale against Toronto FC, ahead of the playoffs.
Almiron has nine goals in 29 games this season and leads Atlanta with 13 assists, helping put United in good position to make the playoffs. The expansion club is in third place in the East with at least one game in hand over many of their rivals.
But Almiron has endured a heavy workload this month, starting five games in a span of 15 days and playing all but 34 minutes as Atlanta opened the new Mercedez-Benz Stadium.
He will also miss the final two World Cup qualifiers for Paraguay next month after starting its previous four games.
Paraguay is three points out of the qualification spots in the CONMEBOL table ahead of games against Colombia and Venezuela.
Atlanta midfielder Jeff Larentowicz called Almiron the "heartbeat" of the club when asked how United would cope without him in the stretch run.
"Well, we just have to move forward. The team comes together. There are plenty of guys that are itching to play," Larentowicz said before the extent of the injury was confirmed.
"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."
Gressel, who had an assist after replacing Almiron on Sunday, said he was ready to step up in his teammate's absence.
"It is just playing the position [and] playing [to] my abilities and seeing what I can do," he 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."
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