Jurgen Locadia has arrived at FC Cincinnati as their latest Designated Player signing. His arrival proves the club is learning from the DP mistakes of 2019.
It was one of the worst seasons in Major League Soccer history. It was also one of the worst expansion seasons in MLS history. As soon as FC Cincinnati took to American’s top tier, it was clear that they were not ready.
Issues in the personnel department, a horribly constructed roster that featured too many defensive midfielders and few offensive weapons, a coach who was not ready to field a competitive team, and a brilliant fanbase that was let down a club not prepared for MLS play, the 2019 season was one to forget for FC Cincinnati.
However, while their inaugural season in MLS was a disastrous one, Cincinnati have shown a willingness and ability to learn from their mistakes and better themselves as a result. And in preparation for their second season, key changes have been made.
None is this more true than in their attacking options, especially the Designated Players. Emmanuel Ledesma and Fanendo Adi are gone, despite coming at great cost to FC Cincinnati, and Yuya Kubo and now Brighton and Hove Albion centre-forward Jurgen Locadia are in.
Locadia arrives on a year-long loan and will lead the FCC line. As FC Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp explained, he is a goalscorer:
"“We are excited to bring in a proven forward in Jürgen to strengthen our attacking abilities. He is a talented goalscorer in his prime and we feel adding an impact player of his caliber will be a great addition to our club. We look forward to welcoming Jürgen to our club and city.”"
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As the successful teams in MLS have proven in recent years, making the most of the three DP slots is critical to building an elite team. Toronto, Seattle, Atlanta, both Los Angeles teams, the elite sides in MLS have exploited the three DP slots, primarily by signing offensive-minded players that have the ability to win matches with unique moments of magic.
And now FC Cincinnati are doing the same. Instead of relying on USL stars and journeyman MLS players who are little more than decent MLS attackers, FCC have dived into the transfer market and swung for the fences on two attacking players with genuine pedigree and potential.
Now, it might be that both Kubo and Locadia flame out — the latter certainly has inconsistency and attitude issues that could undermine his time in Ohio. But FCC are not playing it safe as they did last offseason. They are learning their DP lessons.
Will this move be enough to see Cincinnati compete for a playoff spot? Perhaps not. They have a lot of ground to make up. But it at least shows a step in the right direction. They are learning from their mistakes, and that sets them up very positively for the future.