SANFORD, Fla. — It’s been a bumpy road for Paraguayan midfielder Josué Colmán.
He hasn’t started a single Orlando City match this season and has only appeared four times for the Lions (3-4-3, 12 points). Before this season started, he said he was looking to turn the page on a “horrible” 2018 campaign and prove he’s better than what he showed last year.
There have been matches during which Colmán has been left out of the game-day 18 entirely, though that hasn’t been the case since the team’s 2-1 loss to D.C. United on March 31. Still, the young designated player is looking to improve. On Saturday against Toronto FC, he got his first match minutes since April 13. He played 12 minutes in Orlando City’s 2-0 loss to the Reds.
“It feels very nice to play again after a long time,” Colmán told Pro Soccer USA through a translator. “One always tries to prepare for the opportunity that’s presented to them. It feels very nice.”
Of course, not playing has been a source of frustration for the 20-year-old. He’s played a full 90 minutes just four times during his Orlando City career (28 appearances, 10 starts).
“Obviously, I always want to play and help the team,” he said. “It makes me very happy when I’m playing. Things won’t always be good, but the important thing is that good things come to the team and that I’m prepared.”
Colmán has lofty ambitions. He saw how fellow Paraguayan attacker Miguel Almirón used MLS to catapult his career. The former Atlanta United star made a jump to Premier League side Newcastle United for a record-breaking transfer fee in the offseason.
“Of course, I want to play in Europe,” Colmán told Pro Soccer USA before the start of the season. “That’s what a young player, a young South American player always wants to do, is play in Europe. But, I think I’m very happy and I’m very blessed with this opportunity. I think that this opportunity is going to help me grow as a person and as a player and that’s going to prepare me better for when, hopefully, an opportunity like that comes.”
Colmán said he’s spoken with coach James O’Connor regarding what he needs to improve in order to earn more minutes. So far this season, Colmán has registered just two shots in 54 minutes of action.
“[O’Connor] said, ‘Be better prepared for when the opportunity comes.’ Sometimes there’s not a lot of minutes because there’s a lot of players,” Colmán said. “[O’Connor] always tries to help and he’s always talking to us and I try to listen to everything he says.”
Earlier in the season, O’Connor said Colmán has tried to deliver on the things the coaching staff has asked of him in training. As the season has gone on, Colmán has gotten better, O’Connor said.
“I think he did really well in the preseason game against New England,” O’Connor said. “For Josué, I think it’s an ongoing process where we’re speaking about certain movements, speaking about, maybe, defensive understanding.
“He’s definitely making strides. He’s shown some glimpses in training. I thought when he went on [against Toronto], he tried to do a couple of things that we needed him to do. So, I think he’s been keeping his head down and working really hard. He’s someone that, throughout the end of the season, will have had a decent amount of minutes and, you know, hopefully for us, will continue with his development.”
Still, Colmán said he’s happy with Orlando City and said, “This is a very important time in my life.”
Plus, he is still learning English. While he was away from Orlando City in Paraguay during preseason training getting his green card finalized, he took a class that helped him along.
“The fear will eventually pass with time and I’ll do an interview in English,” he said.