Orlando City SC Head Coach Jason Kreis is having a hard time replacing Dom Dwyer. Since the striker went down injured, the team’s offensive production abruptly declined and no apparent fix for the issue has been presented so far.
Kreis’ first move to try to solve the problem was bringing Stefano Pinho, Dwyer’s natural replacement, into the starting lineup. The Brazilian didn’t impress, however, and that led the coach to do what many considered an odd move by placing Paraguayan midfielder Josué Colmán up top.
With a 5-foot-6 and 156-pound frame, Colmán clearly doesn’t possess the physical tools of a typical striker. More than that, he had spent his entire professional career playing as an attacking midfielder, either in a central position or on the flanks, and was not familiar with the duties of a center forward.
The Paraguayan struggled in his first match in the new role, against the Chicago Fire, but his performance in Orlando City’s match against New York City FC last Saturday left the impression that the Young Designated Player might be just starting to figure things out.
Unlike his first match as a striker, Colmán managed to be dangerous at Yankee Stadium. The Paraguayan hit the post twice and showed that he can be a threat if he adjusts properly to the forward role.
“I’ve loosened up offensively a little bit more and I’ve learned some moves that can cause problems to the opponents,” he told the media after the match. “I tried to finalize the chances I had but unfortunately they hit the post.”
Colmán’s offensive stats were very similar in both matches, especially shots (three in each game), touches (37 against the Fire and 39 against NYCFC) and passing accuracy (90.9% and 88.9%, respectively). The big difference, though, was his movement.
The images below show Colmán’s passing map against the Chicago Fire (left) and New York City FC (right).
The maps show that in the first match the Paraguayan tried to play as a true striker, occupying the center area of the field, which is not ideal for his game. Because of his small size, Colmán is an easy target for much bigger center backs, who will not hesitate to manhandle him out of the penalty box.
In New York, though, he looked for the free space on the wings, an area of the field he’s more used to occupying, as the maps show. Not surprisingly, both plays that ended with him hitting the post started with Colmán on one of the flanks.
As a forward, Colmán’s most intriguing skills are his pace and his dribbling ability and he’ll hardly have space or opportunity to use them in the center of the field as the match against Chicago showed.
The Paraguayan is obviously not a capable replacement for Dwyer, as no one on the roster would be, but he can add something to the team’s offense if he’s placed where it best suits his game. It might not be the ideal solution for the team, but it is what’s available now, so the Lions should hope he keeps progressing.