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Miguel Almirón’s sights still set on Europe, plus other Atlanta United notes

May 13, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron (10) dribbles the ball during the first half of the game against Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
May 13, 2018; Orlando, FL, USA; Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron (10) dribbles the ball during the first half of the game against Orlando City SC at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Miguel Almirón has been dominate in Major League Soccer this season, but he still hopes to compete in Europe one day soon.

At training Wednesday, the Atlanta United F.C. star made it clear that playing in one of Europe’s top leagues is still his ambition. But he’s also savoring his time in MLS.

“I’m just trying to enjoy my time in Atlanta to the fullest,” Almirón said through a translator. “And as I’ve said before, my goal is still to get to Europe.”

Almirón is having an MVP-caliber season as an attacking midfielder for Atlanta United. He has six goals and five assists on the season, but the 24-year-old Paraguayan has also shown the ability to defend at a high level. In the club’s 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire on May 5, for example, he tallied two interceptions and three tackles. His play doesn’t always stick out in the stat sheet, but there’s no question that he is arguably the most important player to Atlanta United’s success.

And because of that, Atlanta may not want to sell Almirón to a European club this summer. The Five Stripes lead the league in points and goals scored and have aspirations to win the Supporters’ Shield, the MLS Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF Champions League.

He is also Atlanta’s highest paid player, making $2.297 in total compensation this year. Whatever European club comes after Almirón, the transfer sticker won’t be small.

The MLS transfer window will reopen July 10.

“I don’t think about (the possibility of a transfer),” Almirón said. “I just work hard every day so that I’ll be ready when the time comes.”

Almirón also spoke about taking more shots this year. He leads MLS in shots taken with 55 and 14 of those have been on-target.

“I’m still trying to get in the box more often and take more shots. That’s something that I think I’m still trying to improve,” Almirón said. “But that’s not the priority. The priority is to make the best play. So, if Josef (Martínez) or another player is in a good position to have a good scoring chance, that’s what I’ll do. But’s it’s still something I think about.”

NOTES

  • Atlanta United homegrown Patrick Okonkwo scored the first goal of his professional career Wednesday when he headed home a shot for the Charleston Battery in a U.S. Open Cup match against Tormenta F.C. Okonkwo, 20, is a native of Nigeria and signed with Atlanta United last year, but has spent part of last season and all of this season on loan with the Battery, a United Soccer League side. The Battery topped Tormenta – a Premier Development League team from Statesboro, Georgia – by a score of 1-0.

  • The doors to Mercedes-Benz Stadium will open early on July 15, because Atlanta United will host a World Cup Final viewing party before its game against the Seattle Sounders. Everyone with a ticket to the Seattle vs. Atlanta match is invited to come early to the viewing party, presented by Coca-Cola.
  • Atlanta United homegrowns Andrew Carleton and Chris Goslin have been called up the United States U-20 men’s national team. The camp will begin in Florida, then conclude with a pair of matches against Honduras on May 17 and 19. Carleton, 17, has appeared in three Atlanta United games and five ATL UTD 2 games this season, tallying one assist and one goal. Goslin, 18, has started six games for ATL UTD 2.
  • Here are the referee assignments for Atlanta’s matchup on Sunday against the New York Red Bulls: Christopher Penso (ref), Cameron Blanchard (AR1), Brian Poeschel (AR2), Fotis Bazakos (Fourth) and Mark Geiger (VAR).

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