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Report: Josué Colmán to Go Out on Loan to Cerro Porteño in Paraguay

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The Lions’ Young DP has already landed in his native country.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Seattle Sounders FC Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City is apparently sending midfielder Josué Colmán out on loan per a social media report from Pedro Torres Insfrán, who covers Club Cerro Porteño. While neither club specifically confirmed that Colmán is going out on loan, an OCSC spokesman did confirm that the 20-year-old is in Paraguay.

Torres Insfrán reported that Colmán has arrived for a medical with Cerro Porteño and spoke to the player at the Silvio Pettirossi Airport.

The loan deal reportedly runs through 2020 with Orlando holding options to recall this December or next June.

Colmán began his professional career with Cerro Porteño, scoring four goals in 48 appearances in 2016 and 2017 with the Asunción-based club. He helped Cerro Porteño capture the 2017 Torneo Clausura championship. The Lions acquired the 5-foot-6 midfielder on Jan. 15, 2018, signing him to a five-year deal as a Young Designated Player as a 19-year-old. Jason Foster reported it as a $3 million move at the time.

The Paraguayan youth international was famously announced by the club as the new No. 10, and was indeed handed that jersey number, upon his acquisition. While it’s not a given that expectations played a role in Colmán’s slow development since his arrival in MLS, they certainly didn’t help. Colmán has struggled to get on the field since joining Orlando City and hasn’t shown much when he has. Colmán repeatedly has shown a willingness to hold the ball and dribble into traffic, where he’s easily dispossessed by bigger, more physical players. He’s cleaned some of that up this season but he still shows some bad habits on the pitch that have been holding him back.

And that’s just the on-the-field stuff we can see. As I wrote in 2018:

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.

In 2018, Colmán began the season injured but returned to play in 24 matches (10 starts), making his debut on March 17 against New York City FC. He contributed one goal — which deflected off his back from a shot by Scott Sutter to beat the New York Red Bulls on March 31, 2018 — and five assists in 1,054 minutes. That goals + assists per 90 minutes rate is a respectable 0.43, but again he knew nothing of the goal that Sutter knocked in off his body. He did contribute the winning penalty after a 1-1 U.S. Open Cup draw against D.C. United last year.

This season, Colmán has appeared in eight games (one start), producing one assist in 154 minutes. That’s a slight increase to 0.58 goals + assists per 90 minutes. The Paraguayan has continued to struggle to see minutes owing largely to either a lack of willingness or quality in defending, which leaves him to come on primarily when the Lions are chasing the game. As a midfielder/wing player, he seems to be a bit adrift in James O’Connor’s formation, as the gaffer has gone with a defensive middle three in a 4-3-3 and the options up top include more seasoned players such as Nani, Chris Mueller, and Tesho Akindele. As he hasn’t looked particularly threatening in front of goal, it must be difficult for O’Connor and his staff to justify him taking up a forward position in the 4-3-3.

Many fans have held the Paraguayan to a high standard because he takes up a Designated Player slot, even though he’s a Young Designated Player and not a standard DP. The YDP rule is specifically designed to bring in players exactly like Colmán, who show tremendous upside but have yet to fully develop. So the club applied the correct standards in going after the midfielder/winger and at 20 years old he still could become an incredibly productive player in the future.

What it Means for Orlando City

Colmán wasn’t doing anyone any good on Orlando City’s bench, but he was a potentially valuable depth player, particularly during congested fixture schedules and the U.S. Open Cup. By sending him to Cerro Porteño he will at least be more likely to get minutes and potentially develop more quickly into an MLS-level player. This would be good for Orlando, which could recall him in time for the 2020 season or by that season’s midway mark.

However, the flip side of that is that Orlando City has a shortage of attacking players and has struggled to score goals. Should a couple of players go down and Colmán isn’t available for recall until December, it will create even more issues in the attacking third. And if he doesn’t develop, he’ll still be on Orlando’s books until 2022 unless his contract is bought out.

In addition, this move doesn’t necessarily free up a DP slot. The DP slot that Colmán takes up can only be used by Orlando City if Cerro Porteño has agreed to take on his full salary hit. However, it would free up an international slot for the remainder of 2019 (and beyond, if he stays in Paraguay).