FC Cincinnati's Jurgen Locadia: "No excuse" for late miss in first game back from injury

Having just played his first match since March, Jurgen Locadia had some understandably mixed emotions following FC Cincinnati's exit from the MLS is Back Tournament on penalties Tuesday night.

The Dutch Designated Player felt some obvious joy and relief to be contributing again, after a quad strain picked up in preparation for the tournament had kept him out of the group stage.

But he cringed to recall an 88th-minute miss on an enormous chance to keep Cincy's tournament run going. Instead, it was the Portland Timbers who advanced following a 1-1 draw and penalty kicks.

Having already leveled the game on an 81st-minute penalty, Locadia could've instantly etched his name in Cincy MLS folklore when he reached Siem de Jong's sneaky ball to the back post. With the goal gaping, he skied his first-time effort well over the crossbar instead.

"Obviously it was a good ball from Siem. I didn't hit the ball correctly. I missed the chance. And in that situation as a striker you need to score that goal," Locadia said. "No excuses, I should've scored that goal and helped the team get to the next round. And unfortunately I didn't. But it happens to all strikers. So I'm going to keep my head up and keep going in those situations and wait for the next opportunity."

Locadia also had his second penalty in the shootout saved by Timbers goalkeeper Steve Clark, and teammate Kendall Waston joined him in failing to convert by skying his attempt well over the crossbar.

While Cincy would've loved to keep playing, it's doubly true for Locadia after working so hard to make what was considered an ahead-of-schedule return, beginning in the 72nd minute against Portland.

"They told me like, it’s going to be at least four weeks," Locadia said. "I think the medical team pushed me. I think it’s been three weeks right now and some days. It’s been a long time for me, a long ride, the recovery time, and I’m happy, man."

Said Cincinnati manager Jaap Stam: "We didn't push him because it's always a risk if you have an injury like he had to push him, to bring him on the pitch. We couldn't win any points with this particular game, so if you're going to push players like Jurgen, or even if it's somebody else, and then he gets an injury and he's out for again, 5-6 weeks, then you miss him in the competition and you don't want to have that. So everything went well.

"We spoke about what we could do with him, 20 minutes was the max, and we needed to stick with that."

While the end product must improve, the added dimension Locadia gave Cincinnati was obvious. He'd already proven that before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the regular season to a halt, when he scored off the bench in his MLS debut and nearly helped FCC steal a point at Red Bull Arena.

"You can see when he's on there, he makes a presence," Stam said. "And he's a presence as a striker. People know him. He's of course a strong guy, a strong player, he's got strong qualities and you can immediately see that when he comes on he's a threat going forward."