ORLANDO – After 17 months, Jürgen Locadia's time in the orange and blue of FC Cincinnati is over.
Following FC Cincinnati's 2-0 victory against Toronto FC at Exploria Stadium, team officials announced the match would be the last at the club for Locadia, whose current loan term ends Wednesday.
With FCC's next match to be played July 3 and no further efforts to be made toward retaining Locadia, club officials bid him farewell via social media after the game.
"We wish you all the best in your next chapter," FC Cincinnati tweeted after the game.
Locadia made one final appearance for FC Cincinnati – his 26th for the club, coming on in the 63rd minute as a substitute against Toronto – on a soggy night, playing to the kind of empty stadium he saw so many of during his pandemic-ravaged time in MLS.
No goal was scored by Locadia, who ended his loan period at FC Cincinnati with three scores, including one in the Round of 16 of the MLS Is Back Tournament last summer.
Locadia had one goal in league play in 2020, scoring on his March 1, 2020 debut against New York Red Bulls. He equaled that tally in 2021 during the club's comeback, May 22 victory against Montreal CF in Fort Lauderdale. It was his last goal for the club, and Saturday was the last time he'd play for it.
Locadia was originally acquired by Cincinnati in a high-profile loan move from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim via the English Premier League's Brighton & Hove Albion, which controlled his rights, on Jan. 31, 2020.
Locadia was instantly the highest-profile player the club had ever signed and, after promising preseason performances and scoring on his debut against the Red Bulls, his loan deal was extended by a year amid the stoppage in play across MLS during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite a small sample size of work from Locadia, FC Cincinnati moved to retain Locadia before his loan expired in 2020 with the support of the fan base and considerable hype still surrounding his presence.
What followed was disappointment and frustration, and general confusion about why Locadia's game didn't translate to FC Cincinnati and MLS.
Locadia was the first to acknowledge his under-performance for FCC even as he continued churning out close chances and a seemingly high level of play.
"I know I can do way better not only with the goals but also assists. It's something to look forward for the next season and it's something I should work on, that I'm working on every day," Locadia said during a November interview ahead of FCC's 2020 season finale. "The thing is to not give up, and with that (social media) post, it's to show people I do care about this even though I don't need to be, like, vocal about it but I think, reflecting back on the season and looking back how where we started in February to the last game on Sunday, it's been a disappointment for myself."
The lack of end product came at a price tag that proved to be too steep for FC Cincinnati to justify retaining Locadia, though. His $2.5 million annual salary for 2021 was the seventh-most in MLS.
Cincinnati General Manager Gerard Nijkamp confirmed to local media on June 17 the club wouldn't trigger the purchase option in Locadia's loan deal, which would have brought with it millions in added costs.
Locadia also tied up designated player and international roster spots, which are themselves valuable assets.
Other remedies for retaining Locadia were explored, including extending his loan, but conversations with Brighton dried up in the days leading to FC Cincinnati's Saturday announcement due to the prohibitive costs.
Unlike Fanendo Adi, FC Cincinnati's first-ever designated player, Locadia maintained goodwill with supporters for his apparent effort and leadership qualities. But the club itself always seemed unlikely to extend the player's stay after the disappointment of 2020.
In February, Locadia was linked to interested from Israeli Premier League club Maccabi Tel Aviv. Sources confirmed to The Enqurier at the time that multiple clubs were interested in Locadia's services, and FCC seemed willing to entertain the discussions.
The unlikelihood of extending Locadia's stay was reinforced as he continued to struggle to find the back of the net once the 2021 season started.
Locadia played just three matches in front of FC Cincinnati's renowned home support, and only one match with TQL Stadium at full capacity.