FRISCO, Texas – At the start of the year, FC Dallas fought off teams from Liga MX, Brazil's Série A and the French Ligue 1 to secure a Designated Player they thought would help propel the team to MLS Cup.
With just a third of the regular season remaining, that man – forward Cristian Colman – hasn’t provided much of a return on the club’s sizable investment. The 23-year-old Paraguayan has just two goals and one assist in 20 regular season appearances for FCD, only nine of which have been starts.
His lack of production has prompted many fans to label Colman a bust, but FCD technical director Fernando Clavijo isn’t giving up on his club’s biggest offseason signing.
"Are we happy with his performance? No," said Clavijo. "Definitely not happy, but I can look around at players who perform all the time like David Villa and Sebastian Giovinco. I can also mention players who, for some reason or other, haven’t produced to the level that was expected. This is when you have to wait and see. Maxi Urruti didn’t perform in Portland, or before that in Toronto, but he has with us.
“Some players do take a little longer to reach their potential, and others never will. I'm not counting him out. I think that there are many qualities that can make him succeed, we just need to believe in the player and give him opportunities. We need to support him."
Urruti's strong season has played a role in keeping Colman off the field. So too has his inexperience as a lone forward, with Colman recently falling behind Tesho Akindele as Dallas’ backup striker. Despite his recent lack of playing time and near complete lack of production – both of his regular-season goals this year came in one game, a 2-1 win at Montreal on July 22 – Clavijo is adamant that he believes Colman can get on track in 2017.
"Every player is different, [Frank] Lampard and [Steven] Gerrard took some time to get on track [in MLS]," Clavijo said. "For him, he's 2-years-old and it's his first time playing outside of Paraguay. Cubo Torres played with some coaches and did very well [with Chivas USA], then played under some other coaches [at Houston] and did very bad. Now he's back with Wilmer [Cabrera, current Dynamo and former Chivas USA head coach] and he's doing great.
“I think sometimes we're too quick to evaluate players and don't give them a chance. Right now we have a very hot forward in Urruti, and we do need Colmán to perform. I do believe he can do the job, and hopefully he can start putting the ball in the back of the net at the most important time of the season."
Whenever FC Dallas players and coaches have been asked about Colmán this season, they've pointed to his work off the ball and his ability to create opportunities for others as positives in his game. Clavijo was no different.
"You can see he has the speed, incredible movement behind the back four to clear space and create," Clavijo said. "He hasn't scored, but he's creating chances, winning free kicks or penalties, always busy."
Colman will get another shot at turning his season around – and potentially snapping Dallas' recent skid – when FCD host the New York Red Bulls on Saturday (9 pm ET | UniMás, Facebook.com in the US; MLS LIVE in Canada).