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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Young South American players drawn to Major League Soccer - Almiron

Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron believes young players from his home continent of South America are increasingly attracted by the prospect of playing in Major League Soccer.

And Almiron, who joined Atlanta last December as a young designated player, isn't doing anything to convince new recruits otherwise.

"I think those players are realizing that the league is growing and it's getting better every year," Almiron told MLSSoccer.com. "Whenever players ask me, I tell them I'm doing really well, things are going really well.

"I think that now you're seeing younger players come from South America to join some of the other experienced players we have in the league, and I think that's really important. Because it makes the league more competitive."

The Paraguay national team member said his decision to sign with Atlanta from Argentina-based Lanus was an easy one, especially given the recruitment efforts of manager Tata Martino.

"When Tata called me, and told me about the proposal and the things they were doing here, I didn't hesitate to say yes to him," said Almiron of the manager who guided his country to a best-ever quarterfinal finish at the 2010 World Cup. "Because he's an idol in Paraguay, for my family too, and it's a great honor to have him as a coach.

"It was a wonderful moment for me, and also for all of Paraguay," said Almiron when looking back at the team's quarterfinal match in 2010. "I remember watching the game against Spain with my dad, and we had a really good team, and a great coach too."

The 23-year-old is currently out with a hamstring injury, but should be fully-fit for the MLS playoffs, which Atlanta qualified for after beating the Philadelphia Union 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Josef Martinez scored Atlanta's second in the win -- taking his season total to 18 goals -- and ran straight to the sidelines after to pick up an Almiron jersey and kiss it to honor his injured teammate.

The gesture was not lost on Almiron, who says the two have developed a special relationship both on and off the field since arriving in Atlanta.

"I get along really well with Josef, so sometimes him and I will go out for lunch or I'll invite him over to my house to play PlayStation," Almiron said.

"Everyone knows about Josef's quality as a player, his technique, his goal scoring ability. It makes it easier playing with him and I think he's the best No. 9 in the league."

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