When FC Cincinnati first showed interest in Dutch-born striker Jurgen Locadia, the 26-year-old knew exactly who to call to get the unfiltered truth about the league: Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room.
"First thing I did was call a friend of mine, he plays for Columbus," Locadia told the Extratime podcast.
After MLSsoccer.com's Andrew Wiebe sussed out that the friend was in fact the Crew SC 'keeper and future Hell Is Real Derby rival, Locadia, who signed as a Designated Player for Cincinnati on Monday, expanded.
"He told me, 'The people are good here, they’re fine people,'" Locadia said. "'Ohio is nice — the weather is not nice but its OK. The league is getting better every year so it’s a nice league to be in.'"
It was obviously enough to get Locadia to listen to the pitch made by FCC sporting director Gerard Nijkamp, who took the post late last May and hired manager Ron Jans — whom Locadia knows from Jans' time managing against Locadia in the Dutch Eredivisie — in early August.
"He told me that Cincinnati just joined MLS last season and basically they’re building from the start," Locadia said. "The project It’s all new for the people, for the fans, for the club. And I want to be a part of it to build something new, and create new memories and maybe win the league, you never know. That’s why I wanted to join Cincinnati, it’s new and it’s a great chance to make new memories."
With Locadia joining Yuya Kubo and Haris Medunjanin as the club's biggest offseason additions, Locadia joins a group that, while far from the most star studded team in the league, looks significantly improved from the beginning of 2019.
Although Locadia struggled to see playing time at his last two employers in the English Premier League and German Bundesliga, he rightly points out he has produced offense consistently, with a career average of 0.48 goals and 0.73 goals-plus-assists per 90 minutes in first-team football. And a bit like Kubo, he's malleable.
"I'm a center forward but I like to play on the left side also, or behind the striker," Locadia said. "It doesn’t really matter for me as long as a play my games and try to be important for the team."
He's also trying to remain flexbile in terms of his international future. While he's previously been called into the Dutch national team, he has yet to appear in a match for them. And he could also be eligible for a sneaky-talented Curacao squad that reached the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals, thanks in part to the goalkeeping heroics of his friend on the Crew.
"That’s a hard question," Locadia said, asked if he would consider joining Room as Curacao teammates. "If I show my qualities here in MLS, you never know I get a call from the Dutch coach. I love to keep my options open. I would never say no, but I want to keep my options open."