Kei Kamara joins New England in record trade to end dramatic week for Columbus

Kei Kamara has left the Columbus Crew following a highly dramatic week after being traded to New England Revolution just minutes after the MLS primary transfer window closed on Wednesday night.

The Revolution have reportedly sent Columbus a record amount of allocation money in the trade – believed to be in excess of $300,000 – as well as an international roster spot for the current season, New England’s highest SuperDraft pick for 2017 and a second round pick for 2018.

Kamara, who ended last season as the joint-highest scorer in MLS with 22 goals, was involved in a very public spat with teammate Federico Higuain in last Saturday’s 4-4 home against Montreal Impact, in which both players scored twice.

The Crew earned a penalty kick in the 51st minute with the score at 3-1. Kamara wanted to take the penalty as he was set for a first career hat-trick but Higuain instead put the ball into the net to make it 4-1, before the Crew collapsed to allow Montreal back into the game.

Kamara laid into his teammate after the game, labelling Higuain as “selfish” as well as questioning the club’s team spirit.

“You have two goals, you’re going for a hat-trick, a player that’s never scored a hat-trick in their career,” Kamara told local TV after the game. “What do you do? Do you give it to him or do you take it? That’s selfishness. That’s not a teammate. That’s selfishness.

“We scored a lot of goals, but there was no team play and that completely explains the way me and Federico behaved on the penalty kick. A team who stays together will win games. A team that doesn’t, not gonna win games. And that’s horrible.”

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Kamara was subsequently suspended for this weekend’s game against Colorado but he showed no regret for his comments following that decision when speaking on Tuesday.

“[Coach Gregg Berhalter] told me that this morning, and obviously I didn’t agree to it all,” the Sierra Leonean forward said. “I won’t agree to it. But he’s the boss, and if he says, ‘We don’t need you for the weekend. You’re going to have to sit out for the weekend,’ there’s nothing I can do about that.”

With tensions reaching boiling point, Columbus took the decision to trade their star striker late on Wednesday, with both the Crew and New England officially announcing the deal on Thursday morning.

Columbus won’t be able to replace the 31-year-old goalscorer until the summer transfer window opens on July 4, but they do now have a Designated Player slot available, as well as a healthy sum of allocation money to invest.

Kamara penned a DP contract with Columbus this offseason, just one year after returning to MLS from Middlesbrough and will now become New England’s second DP, joining defender Jose Goncalves.

The Revolution have struggled for goals so far this term, averaging just 1.18 per game – the sixth-worst return in the league so far – so Kamara’s arrival will undoubtedly give the club a boost.

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“We have been looking to strengthen our team and we feel that this addition accomplishes just that,” Revolution General Manager Michael Burns said in a club statement. “Kei is a player who has had success and is a proven goal scorer in MLS. We’re pleased we were able to get this deal done and look forward to Kei’s arrival and integration into the team.”

Kamara will now join his seventh team in ten years and his fifth MLS side, having played for Columbus, San Jose, Houston and Sporting Kansas City before then returning to the Crew ahead of the 2015 season.

He has scored a total of 79 goals in 234 MLS appearances and is the league’s second-highest active goalscorer among current MLS players, trailing only San Jose’s Chris Wondolowski, who has 116 goals.

Kamara could make his Revs debut in Saturday’s game against Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium and could face the Crew three times during the regular season, at home on July 9 and August 20 before a trip to MAPFRE Stadium on September 25.

What do you make of Columbus Crew’s decision to trade Kei Kamara to the New England Revolution?

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Kei Kamara left to “soak in” Portland celebrations by remaining on pitch

It was tough not to feel sympathetic for Kei Kamara as the Portland Timbers celebrated their first ever MLS Cup championship at MAPFRE Stadium on Sunday night.

The Columbus Crew star man’s goal wasn’t enough to complete a comeback as Portland won the 2015 MLS Cup Final by a 2-1 scoreline in Ohio, becoming the first team to lift the trophy on the road since the home advantage rule was introduced.

The Crew players quickly left the field at the final whistle, allowing Portland to celebrate their success, but one man remained as Kamara watched the Timbers’ celebrations for 15 minutes from a distance.

“I wanted to sit out there. I wanted to see what it feels like to lift that trophy,” he said afterwards.

“That’s why I was sitting out there. Those are the things that keep you going, working harder and harder.

“I’ve been there before – not to the final, but in games you really want to win. To me, it’s not just about getting up and walking away. It’s about seeing the other guys and how they feel, what that celebration is like. Because you want to feel that. That’s the feeling I was just soaking in.”

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Kamara enjoyed a stunning first season with the Crew as he netted a total of 26 goals in 37 appearances. Although being left disappointed with the way the season ended on Sunday, the 31-year-old attacker praised the support he’s received from Columbus fans since arriving.

“They’ve shown me love from day one, from the first tweet I did saying ‘New Crew, I’m coming to this team.

“They’ve always shown me love. The fans have been amazing all year, and I appreciate them.”

MLS Playoff Preview and Prediction: Montreal Impact vs Columbus Crew

Competition: MLS Playoffs (Eastern Conference Semifinal First Leg) – Montreal Impact vs. Columbus Crew 

Venue: Saputo Stadium – Sunday, November 1 – 19:00 ET (00:00 GMT)

Match Odds: Montreal Impact 6/5 – Draw 13/5 – Columbus Crew 21/10

Match Preview

Montreal Impact host Columbus Crew on Sunday night in their first ever MLS Playoffs Conference Semifinal as two sides with genuine hopes of lifting the MLS Cup this year go head-to-head.

After a 3-0 knockout round win over Toronto on Thursday Montreal will feel confident of progressing into the Eastern Conference Final after the two legs with Columbus.

Much of their recent success is down to Didier Drogba and his sensational goalscoring record since arriving in the summer. He has now scored 12 in his last 11 matches in MLS.

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With four wins on the bounce, you’d be brave to bet against the Impact in this one. They are a real force at home and deserve to be where they are right now.

Montreal Impact’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D6 – L13

Columbus have been excellent this season and display consistency that is not to be underestimated. They are the favourites to win over two legs when you consider their regular season form but this is the MLS Playoffs and anything can happen as we’ve already seen this week.

Remarkably, Columbus lost both matches against Montreal during the regular season and so it seems the Canadian’s have the Crew’s number.

Columbus have been handed a boost however, as Kei Kamara is expected to start after serving his one-game suspension. The striker has been so important for them going forward this season and his tally of 22 goals – tied most in the regular season – is a fearful statistic for the Impact.

Columbus Crew’s regular season record: P34 – W15 – D8 – L11 

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Federico Higuain will also return for the Crew as they look set to strengthen in attack for the game, despite banging five past DC United last Sunday in that 5-0 win.

Team News

Montreal Impact will be missing Cameron Porter, Kenny Cooper and Andres Romero, who are all out injured. Justin Mapp is a doubt. The Impact are likely to field an unchanged team to the one that beat Toronto. Didier Drogba had a first-half injury scare on Thursday but went on to play 90 minutes and should be fine to play.

Columbus Crew are without Kristinn Steindorsson through injury. Tony Tchani is questionable with a sore right thigh, while Matt Lampson and Chad Barson are both doubts. Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara will return after missing the final game of the season.

Key Points

Montreal Impact’s last five in MLS: L/W/W/W/W

Columbus Crew’s last five in MLS: W/L/L/W/W

Key Stat: Montreal Impact have won their last six at home in MLS, including Thursday’s 3-0 playoff demolition of Toronto.

Key Player: Didier Drogba – The Ivorian striker has been sensational since moving to Montreal and with 12 goals in 12 games it’s impossible to look past him as the difference-maker on Sunday night.

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Score Prediction

Montreal Impact 1-0 Columbus Crew – Montreal have the added advantage of a 3-0 win in midweek to take into the game, however, Columbus have been consistent all season and have had an extra week to recover for this one. We’re expecting a nervy first leg for both sides but can see home-field advantage helping Montreal to narrowly win this one.

STATS – How important is Kei Kamara to Columbus Crew?

Kei Kamara has started the season in blistering form and is the leading scorer in Major League Soccer and is playing a huge part in Columbus Crew‘s Eastern Conference position of fourth.

The forward has netted an impressive nine goals in his opening eleven games and isn’t showing any signs of his strike rate dropping off.

He has been Crew’s top performer this season, so lets see how he has performed in key attacking areas.

Stats via Squawka Apps Goals Assists Pass Accuracy Chances Created Shot Accuracy Key Passes Duels Won
Kamara 11 9 2 70% 48 58% 13 48%

His nine goals and two assists mean he has been involved in as many games as he has played. Crew have scored 17 regular season goals so far this campaign and Kamara has over half of those.

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Kamara is also creating more than four chances for his teammates per-game, which shows he is not just a goal-scorer, but that he can provide as a hold-up player.

He only has 58% shot accuracy and won under half his duels, but with his goal output in mind those stats are easy to scrutinise.

Crew have only had four other players to hit the target this season, Justin Meram on three, Ethan Finlay and Federico Higuain on two and Tony Tchani with one. It is one thing being expected to score the goals for your side but another to actually provide, and Kamara is doing the best job of that in MLS at the moment.

Kamara has a good chance of breaking the record for the most goals in one MLS season, which is currently held by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips on 27.

Hypothetically speaking, if Kamara’s strike rate stays the same, he would be on 27 goals in 33 games. That would give him one regular season game left to break the record. But it has to be mentioned that it is very hard to maintain such a great output.

How important has Kei Kamara been for Columbus Crew this season and can he break the record for most goals in a single season? 

MLS Preview and Prediction: Columbus Crew vs Chicago Fire

Competition: Major League Soccer – Columbus Crew vs. Chicago Fire

Venue: MAPFRE Stadium – Friday, May 22 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Match Odds: Columbus 4/5 – Draw 13/5 – DC United 100/30

Match Preview

Columbus Crew take on Chicago Fire in the first of this week’s Friday night fixtures at MAPFRE Stadium with both looking to bounce back after disappointing defeats last week.

The Crew lost 2-0 at San Jose after playing with ten men for much of the game and will hope the return home can inspire them to record a fourth straight win.

Gregg Berhalter’s side beat Seattle Sounders 3-2 two weeks ago and will be looking to record a fifth win of the campaign against the Fire this week.

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Columbus have not won away from home this year, and with two road games coming up next, it’s important the Crew try to take all three points from their game on Friday.

Chicago Fire are without a win in three now, after going on a winning streak of three prior to that, and Frank Yallop will need to try and steady the ship quickly as they look to move back into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Chicago have not won on the road this season, losing three of their four, with the only draw coming in last weekend’s 2-2 draw at New York City FC. Though they should have won that game after leading 2-0 against an NYCFC team with just ten players.

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A trip to Columbus won’t present the Fire with an easy task though as they have lost their on their last two trips to Ohio, without scoring a goal.

Last season saw them play twice in MLS, with the Crew winning the home game 2-0, before a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park in August.

Team News

Columbus Crew will be without Mohammed Saeid after he picked up a red card last week. Wil Trapp will miss out once again through concussion, while Matt Lampson is struggling with a hamstring strain. Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain will continue to play in attack and will look to cause the Fire defence damage.

Chicago have three injury worries heading into the game as Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko and Matt Watson are all likely to miss out. Magee has returned to training and will not be too far away from a return to action now so he could even feature here.

Key Points

Columbus Crew’s last five: W/W/L/W/L

Chicago Fire’s last five: W/W/L/L/D

Key Stat: There have been a total of 21 cards in the last six meetings in all competitions between these two, with two of those a red.

Key Player: Kei Kamara – The powerful striker has seven goals already this season and has four in his last three home games. Expect him to be a threat.

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Score Prediction

Columbus Crew 3-1 Chicago Fire – Columbus have scored at least three goals in their last three home meetings and will likely prove too strong for Chicago this weekend. The Fire have struggled on the road and will come unstuck in this one once again.