Josué Colmán will admit moving to the United States from his native Paraguay wasn’t an easy decision.
Colmán, 19, is one of several new faces Orlando City acquired during the offseason, penning a five-year contract and becoming Orlando’s newest youngest designated player for the upcoming season.
While taking on an important responsibility as the club’s newest No. 10, the move abroad for Colmán meant leaving his country, his friends and, most important, his family.
For Colmán, that’s the cost of pursuing a lifelong dream.
“It was difficult and complicated,” Colmán said. “But at the same time, if you want to achieve your dreams, you have to move certain things to the side to achieve your objective — for me, it was leaving my family, friends and my own country. To come here and learn new things about the American culture will benefit me personally and good for my growth.”
Teammate and Uruguayan international José Aja, 24, knows what it’s like to be in Colmán’s shoes. Aja, who arrived in Orlando in 2016 from his hometown team — Club Nacional — experienced a period of transition.
Aja and Colmán have bonded, their budding connection showing on social media and during training. Aja says he feels obligated to help Colmán transition to life in the United States.
“That’s why I decided to get close to him because when I arrived two years ago here, I came alone,” Aja told Pro Soccer USA. “It’s complicated for a young person to come to a whole new culture and country you’re not used to living in, so adapting to that is very important so you feel a little bit more comfortable. I could only share my experiences of when I arrived and help him transition to living here.”
Colmán was announced as Orlando’s newest player on Jan. 15 but already gained some knowledge on MLS from former Seattle Sounders and compatriot Nelson Valdez.
“Since the beginning of last year, he began talking to me about Major League Soccer, and when I kept hearing about the league, I was very enthusiastic about coming here one day,” Colmán said. “It’s a league that’s growing, and bringing many young South Americans like me to play here.”
After failing to make the playoffs during the past three seasons, acquiring Colmán has been regarded as a big coup for Orlando, according to several soccer analysts.
The 5-foot-6 attacking midfielder will be responsible for leading a new-look attack force in 2018.
“They saw something in my game that they liked,” Colmán said. “For me, I was very happy to know that, and I can only give them my best.”
After the first week of training with Orlando City, Colmán has earned praise from his other teammates, including Peruvian international Yoshimar Yotún.
“Good thing about this club is that it’s really important when signing a player to not only get a great player, but also get a great person,” Yotún said. “That’s the way this club operates, and Josue is a great person. For me, it’s been nice to share the locker room with him. We hope he can bring a lot of success to this club.”
Colmán will don the No. 10 jersey for the Lions, a number he wore at his boyhood club in Paraguay with Cerro Porteño. When asked what it meant to wear that number, Colmán acknowledged it meant more because it was previously worn by Brazilian star Kaká.
“I was really happy to see I was given the No. 10 jersey,” Colmán said. “It’s a privilege to wear that number for Orlando knowing one of the best soccer players in history wore it before me.
“Now I can only give the best of me to achieve several things with this club and start winning the confidence of my teammates, coaches and fans.”