Like Orlando City SC’s entire organization, midfielder Josué Colmán is ready to turn the page on last year.
Colmán, now 20, showed up in the U.S. from Paraguay last year with a backpack and a PlayStation. He suffered a quad contusion that caused him to miss most of preseason training. And once he was ready to play, he struggled on match day despite some flashes of solid play. Colmán finished last season with one goal and five assists in 24 appearances (10 starts) for Orlando City.
“Obviously very, very disappointed [with] the way things went last year,” Colmán said to Pro Soccer USA through a translator.
“As a group, we didn’t do a good job and, individually, I had a horrible year. The expectations were high and unfortunately we weren’t able to meet them. But we have to turn the page now and we have to focus on this year. There are some good things happening and we have the right mentality to try to achieve and do a lot better than we did last year.”
Colmán has his green card now, which frees up an international roster spot for Orlando City. Going through that process, and returning to his home country of Paraguay to do so, caused him to miss the team’s preseason training camp at IMG Academy, but he’s back with the team now.
He said he knows what he needs to do to improve on last season.
“I need to focus on the fitness aspect,” the young designated player said. “Last year, unfortunately, I started the season not up to par with the team and with an injury that I struggled with the entire year. It’s important for me to focus on my fitness. If I can do that, then I can truly develop what I can bring to the team offensively and give the best that I can to the team.”
Focusing on fitness was tough while he was away, Colmán said. Coach James O’Connor put the team through a grueling training regimen in Bradenton, and Colmán said he wanted to be a part of that with the rest of the team.
“The coach was sending me the same type of workouts that they were doing,” Colmán said. “Obviously, it’s not the same thing, but I was trying to put [in] the maximum effort, even sometimes doing a little bit more.
“Obviously, it was not the same and I was a little bit upset that I was missing this critical part of the training, but I was having to deal with green card situations. Now I’m very happy that I’m back and I’m excited just to be back and trying to get at the same level that they are.”
O’Connor said Colmán will be brought up to speed, fitness-wise.
“He worked really hard [Monday], and he’s got a few weeks of hard work ahead of him because he’s playing catch-up,” O’Connor said on Tuesday. “He was training when he was away. It was something that was completely out of our control, obviously with the government shutdown and the visa situation and he’s in the green card process.
“For us, it’s just managing it and being intentional about managing him. He needs to be loaded like the rest of the guys. Certainly, for the next seven to 10 days, he’s going to have some difficult work ahead of him.”
O’Connor said Colmán’s status as a designated player doesn’t change his expectations.
“I think the expectations for all the players are to give their very, very best,” O’Connor said. “I think, when you’re a DP, the media and the supporters maybe try to create different expectations and try to create something that becomes difficult. I think for Josué, we want him to focus on being the very best version of himself. That’s the same for all of the players. We want maximum effort and hopefully their talent and their quality can take over.”
Colmán is confident this year will be different. He has a year of experience living in the U.S. under his belt and a full season of MLS play is behind him.
He’s off to a better start than he was last season, he said.
“I’m very happy to be back,” Colmán said. “I really, really was excited to come back and meet my new teammates. To get to know the coaches and figure out the culture of the team and all the changes that have been made. I’m really, really excited to be back with this group of guys.
“It’s different this year. I was able to bring my family and that’s already a good thing for me. The year started off properly because I feel like I have the support, so now I’ve just got to focus on soccer and what I can do on the field and give the best that I can to the team.”