After weeks of rumors and the ever-increasing mounting evidence on social media, Orlando City has finally announced the signing of 19-year-old Paraguayan midfielder Josué Colmán to a five-year contract including club options, pending receipt of his ITC and P-1 Visa. The Lions are hopeful that the talented young attacking midfielder will become a breakout star for the club in the vein of young talents like Miguel Almiron.
He’ll have plenty of time to develop, as the former Cerro Porteño (Paraguay) player signed a multiyear deal that could keep him in Orlando through 2022. He’ll take up a DP slot as a Young Designated Player as well as an international slot. Cerro Porteño will reportedly retain 30% of any future sale of the player, per various online outlets in South America.
No pressure or anything on the 19-year-old, after the club has already declared him the No. 10, at least on social media.
“We are pleased to welcome such an exciting young prospect to our roster,” Lions General Manager Niki Budalic said in a club press release. “Josué has great pace and can create chances for himself and others. His skill set and profile give us confidence he will be a great fit in Orlando and MLS for years to come.”
The Asunción, Paraguay native made 48 appearances the last two seasons with Cerro Porteño (43 starts), scoring four goals. He picked up only one yellow card in two seasons of top flight Paraguayan football. He helped lead his club to a Torneo Clausura championship his first season. Colmán also made seven appearances (five starts) in Copa Sudamericana in 2016 and 2017.
The signing hasn’t exactly been a secret for quite some time. The rumor surfaced before Christmas and has only gotten louder by the day.
Josué Colmán gave an interview on @ABCCardinal #730AM today ahead of his $3M move from #CerroPorteño to #OCSC: He signed a 5 year contract, he's very happy to go to Orlando for a big step in his career, and he'll be traveling to the U.S. between January 11th and 15th. #MLS pic.twitter.com/hd3saPtt1e— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) January 5, 2018
He even turned up in Orlando City gear last night on Twitter.
Colmán joins a growing formidable midfield that includes recently acquired Sacha Kljestan and Peruvian international Yoshimar Yotún.
What it Means for Orlando City
Budalic and Kreis have been on the lookout for a more dynamic attack to close the gap with the likes of Eastern Conference leaders such as Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, both New York teams and Atlanta United. Colmán should pair nicely with Yotún and Kljestan to provide creative attacking build-up that will not only create more goals from the midfield but also provide service to finishers like Dom Dwyer and Stefano Pinho. Orlando’s current strikers are more adept at finishing than setting up their own chances, and thus it became imperative for the Lions to find the kind of players that can feed them the ball. Orlando has done just that with this signing and the addition of Sacha Kljestan.
It bears mentioning again that Colmán is just 19 years old and will be subject to the same difficulties — namely cultural barriers, a language gap, being far from his usual support structure and family — that so many previous foreign players have had to deal with when making the move from abroad to MLS. How Colmán handles the transition will be key to how much he can contribute in 2018 and beyond. The Lions have dealt with other young players who didn’t handle it well (hello, Bryan Rochez!), and others who have handled it just fine, such as Cristian Higuita.
Colmán has potential role models to look toward in new teammates Higuita and Yotún. Assuming he is able to handle the off-field adjustments just fine, the on-field stuff should follow. Colmán is an exciting talent and movement both with and without the ball is a strength. He can play multiple attacking midfield positions. He’s right-footed and looks to be a great fit on the right side with Kljestan in the middle and Yotún left, although with the club touting him as a No. 10 on social media today, we’ll wait and see how that goes.
Further, this signing shows the club is self-aware and has ambitions to make the right moves. The Lions made some missteps with their original roster construction when joining Major League Soccer. They were trying to do the same types of things they’re doing now, only they didn’t pan out and with expansion team depth those roster misses were magnified.
The club didn’t expect both Rochez and Carlos Rivas to fail to deliver. Had they both developed as expected, this rebuild wouldn’t be necessary and it’s likely Adrian Heath would still be in Orlando. But those signings didn’t work out and the Brek Shea experiment was a reasonable one even though it also ultimately failed.
Now we’re entering Year 4 of Orlando City in MLS and the club seems to be rebuilding in the right manner. Time will tell if it all comes together. If it does, Colmán could be a key piece of this team’s success for years to come.