Cristian Colmán ended up in the right spot at the right time.
In the 30th minute against Arabe Unido in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, the opposing goal keeper lofted a goal kick into the stiff south wind. Carlos Gruezo came up from his midfield position and headed right into Colmán’s path. Colmán made quick work of the opportunity. He pounded the ball into the turf and watched it bounce over the keeper for the match’s opening goal.
It was the best possible start for the new signing. And it was the worse possible start.
Colmán joined FC Dallas over the offseason from Nacional Asunción in Paraguay for a $2 million transfer fee — the largest FC Dallas has ever payed for a player. And with that amount of money spent on a single player comes the pressure to perform.
But so far, Colmán has produced underwhelming results. That goal might have been the worst thing for Colmán as it sent fans’ expectations for him higher than they already were. But eight matches into the season, he has scored zero goals in MLS play. He’s managed to get himself into really good positions and create chances, but has looked almost comical in managing to miss the net, and that’s lead to a lot handwringing by the FC Dallas supporters.
But, while his struggles have certainly been frustrating, there’s no need panic about Colmán yet.
Coleman is finding good spots
First off, it’s not like Colmán is lazy or unathletic. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Colmán has looked poor and almost comical because he puts himself in the right positions. He’s making those smart runs and finding space behind the defense. And because he tends to be open when he gets the ball, it makes his poor finishing stand out that much more.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) March 12, 2017
Take a look at the gif above. Colmán makes a great run into the box in support of Tesho Akindele along the right flank. He does practically everything right. He gets himself into the best possible position. He does everything right except for the last one percent — finish. Now, granted Graham Zusi did come in late to affect that play, but it’s something a striker should finish.
Major League Soccer dot gif pic.twitter.com/GQp6BIif81
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) April 15, 2017
Meanwhile, this “highlight” looks worse than what it actually is. Colmán had no shot to get to this ball and redirect the ball into the net. But he never gives up on the play and ends up striking the post and it becomes a meme. To me, however, the most important part of this play is that Colmán makes this play happen. He’s the one that applies the pressure that forces the situation. He created the chance, limited as it might have been.
Personally, I would much rather have a player who gets himself into the right spots and hustles and does everything except finish. It’s much easier to teach finishing — Colmán is 23 years old after all — than it is to teach making those runs and getting into dangerous positions.
He just needs that first goal
Like a batter in a slump at the plate, Colmán just needs that first league goal in order to get the monkey off his back. You can tell he’s feeling the pressure and trying too hard to make a goal happen rather than remaining cool, calm and collected and finishing off his great chances.
Against Real Salt Lake, Colmán had a wide open header in the box late in the match; however, instead of placing the ball on frame, he tried to hit it with power and it ended up going way wide of goal. In the match before against Portland, he had a great chance in front of goal, but again, he went for power and hit it over the bar instead of placing it into one of the corners.
That’s a sign of him trying too hard, which I guess is better than not trying at all, but the end result remains the same: no goals. He just needs to breathe, settle down and be calm around goal rather than trying to force a goal. And with him learning under Oscar Pareja, I believe Colmán will eventually calm down. Then the goals will come.
Maxi Urruti’s picking up the slack
But here’s the thing: FC Dallas isn’t depending on Colmán to score goals right now.
Instead, fellow striker Maxi Urruti has started the season on fire. Unlike last year, Urruti has started this season with six goals in seven matches played. That places him in a tie for third in the league, giving FC Dallas a player in the golden boot race for the first time in forever.
The main reasoning amongst those of us outside is that Colmán’s acquisition has lit a fire under Urruti to become a much more consistent striker. Having that dependable, reliable striker up top has lifted an FC Dallas attack that has otherwise struggled without Mauro Diaz.
This isn’t to say he was bad before this. He actually went through a phase similar to Colmán’s struggles last year where he did everything right but be able to finish. Now he’s burying those chances. And it shows there’s hope for Colmán yet.
Now, this isn’t to say that’s Colmán’s struggles to find the back of the net haven’t been frustrating. I pull my hair out after every close miss and botched opportunity just like every fan out there. And to be honest, I feel really bad for the guy.
But there’s no need to panic yet. Colmán isn’t a failure. He’s doing 99 percent of the things a striker should do right. It’s just that last little bit that he’s missing.
And once he gets that first league goal, it’s going to be very hard to stop him.