It sounds obvious, but Jürgen Locadia simply did what he’s supposed to do.
Brought in on loan from English Premier League side Brighton Hove & Albion, Locadia’s arrival was greeted with high praise and expectations. Leading MLS pundit Matt Doyle said of his landing in Cincy, “As for Locadia, it does feel a little bit like Josef Martínez in that he’s an in-his-prime player.”
His arrival was worthy of supporter groups showing up at the airport. Some on social media claimed the Dutch forward could spearhead the club’s future.
Could all of this be true? We’ll see in time – which is exactly what Locadia hasn’t had much of.
Two Thursdays ago, he left preseason training camp at IMG Academy to finalize his visa in Amsterdam. He flew back to the U.S. on Friday, but travel delays in Atlanta forced him to re-route, stay overnight and then meet the team directly in New York on Saturday.
Without participating in any FCC training session since Feb. 20, he entered Sunday’s match in the 64th minute and immediately started creating the goal-scoring opportunities that FCC struggled to produce the previous hour.
Maybe the high point of his debut was the goal, but his immediate reaction to scoring will generate a much bigger aftershock.
After breaking free for a one-on-one, Locadia’s initial shot was stopped by David Jensen before the forward buried his rebound.
But then Locadia quickly grabbed the ball – without an ounce of celebration – and ran back toward midfield for play to resume. While FCC were still trailing, 3-2, with seven minutes left, he made it clear he’s not here to celebrate goals and accomplishments. He just wants to work hard, do his job and help his team.
“I just play my game,” he said afterward in the locker room. “If I score, I score. If I don’t, I’m a human being. There’s no pressure.”
Locadia might not feel pressure, but it’s certainly been applied on him from everyone else.
While he’s here on loan with an option to buy, he’s also the best goal scorer on an FC Cincinnati side that hardly scored in 2019. For a team desperately trying to rewrite its narrative, Locadia simply doing what he’s capable of can go a long way.
“He brings his quality and experience up front,” interim head coach Yoann Damet said. “He’s able to hold up the plays, able to drop in between lines, but also offer a presence in the air and a presence in the box. So, we are looking forward to use all of our attacking pieces to create more opportunities and get some results.”
Locadia’s minutes should increase now that he’s back with the team full-time.
If Sunday’s performance is what he can produce after only working with a personal trainer for a week, fans can only imagine what he can do with a full week of practice with his teammates.
Including the goal against the Red Bulls, the Dutchman has now scored in his pro debut, Eredivisie debut, his English Premier League debut and also in his MLS debut. Here’s to hoping he’s not scoring in any other leagues anytime soon.
Locadia wasn’t brought to Cincinnati to fix last season’s goal-scoring woes singlehandedly. But in just 26 minutes, he proved maybe he’ll be even more of a revelation than anyone initially hoped for.
That doesn’t mean added pressure – just lofty goals and expectations.
Like he said, “I just play my game. If I score, I score. If I don’t, I’m a human being. There’s no pressure.”
But then once the recorder was off, he added with a smile, “I’m happy I did, though.”
FC Cincinnati fans are happy – and excited, too.