Just as he did against Real Madrid last season, Almiron impressed against a top European club in Juventus in the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on Wednesday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
The Paraguayan's skills are apparent: An ability to drop his shoulder and burst past an opposing midfielder, to see and burst into open space off the ball, and force defenders to backpedal with all their might as he charges at them with the ball. MLS fans have seen it week after week in league competition, but Almiron has proven in two All-Star Games that his talent translates to another level.
For Almiron, it’s not about impressing the top foreign clubs. It’s about the competition and the respect he has for the game.
“Every time I step on the field, I try to give my best performance,” said Almiron through a translator after Wednesday night’s 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. “Today was another one of those times. I took the game very seriously against a very good team. It was a very intense game.”
Playing in Atlanta, the 72,317 in attendance Wednesday night wasn’t something that was going to either intimidate or awe Almiron—he’s played in front of at least 70,000 fans in Mercedes-Benz Stadium five times in his career. After the game, Almiron even called Wednesday’s attendance “normal.”
But no one could fault Almiron for stepping up his game in an opportunity like this to help forge his road to a top European team. Almiron made his feelings known about his future in an interview with ESPNFC, in which he stated that he hopes to make the leap as soon as next season. With fellow MLS All-Star Alphonso Davies’ league-record move to Bayern Munich announced just a week ago, it feels like an opportune moment to let his star shine as bright as possible.
But despite the glitz and glamor of Wednesday night’s All-Star Game, Almiron is already turning the page to focus on his club, as Atlanta United are set to face a resurgent Toronto FC team at home on Saturday (4 pm ET | ESPN - Full TV & Streaming Options).
“Everyone knows the quality of the opponent we played against,” said Almiron. “Juventus is one of the top teams. We played a great game, but now it's time to get back to thinking about Atlanta.”