Kei Kamara 100 MLS goals, 12 seasons, 6 clubs

Week two of the 2018 MLS season was another entertaining one. With 38 goals scored across the nine games there was plenty of exciting action to feast upon. One of those 38 goals was more important than the rest on a personal level for Kei Kamara, as it was his 100th regular season goal on his 300th overall MLS appearance.

Kei Kamara 100 MLS goals: Stats by club

In Kamara’s 288 regular season games he has played for six clubs. His MLS career started out in 2006 with Columbus Crew, where he spent two seasons before briefly moving on to San Jose and then to Houston Dynamo.

From there he settled for his longest spell in at one MLS club to date, five seasons with Sporting Kansas City. In the last four seasons Kamara has played for Crew again, New England Revolution and now Vancouver Whitecaps. Let’s take a look at how his goals are broken down by club.

Kei Kamara 100 MLS Goals

Given that Kamara has been on the move a considerable amount it is no surprise to see his goals spread out. He scored the majority of his 100 goals during his time at Sporting KC and Crew SC respectively. In his 288 appearances he has averaged 0.42 goals per 90 minutes.

Kamara’s best season total came in 2015, where he netted a haul of 22 for Columbus Crew. Despite his efforts that season, his firepower was only enough to finish a runner-up in the MLS Cup final.

Kei Kamara 100 MLS goals: All-time list

There are just nine players ahead of Kamara in the Major League Soccer all-time goalscoring list. Out of those nine, just one player (Chris Wondolowski) is still a current player. Wondo is gunning for the overall record, which he may achieve this season. Sitting top of the list is Landon Donovan, who hit 145 goals in 340 games.

It is a possibility that Kamara could end the 2018 season 5th in the all-time standings. He would need another 15 goals to surpass Ante Razov’s 114. Although Kamara has only managed to score more than 15 in a single season on one occasion with his second-best single-season tally standing at 12, which he achieved last year with New England.

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2018 Key Transfers: Vancouver Whitecaps

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we finish the serie by looking at Vancouver Whitecaps and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

Key Signings

Anthony Blondell: Blondell is a 23-year-old striker hailing from Venezuela. He will be unknown to many so he will have the element of surprise on many defenders. He’ll be coming off the back of a prolific season playing for Monagas where he scored 24 goals in 39 appearances. He’s had an impressive preseason campaign with the Whitecaps and will be hoping to make a real impact.

Kei Kamara: Vancouver becomes the sixth MLS club to take on Kei Kamara. After two seasons with New England Revolution in which he scored 19 goals he makes his way north. We expect him to partner Blondell up front this year in what could prove to be a great partnership. Again, their preseason form suggests they will score plenty of goals.

Doneil Henry: After having to cope with various loan spells across Europe while with West Ham United, Henry has returned back to his native Canada with the Whitecaps in permanent move. A Toronto academy graduate defender, Henry at the ripe age of 24 already has over 20 caps for Canada and a return home will hopefully get his career back on track.

Notable Departures

David Ousted: Long standing ‘keeper Ousted has left for DC United after five seasons in Vancouver. He is expected to start in DC after the departure of Bill Hamid to Europe. Vancouver fans will be sad to see him go as he has been a stalwart and a reliable leader for them for half a decade.

Mauro Rosales: Vancouver decided to decline Rosales’ option after he only had five appearances last term. Rosales has been in MLS for the past seven seasons, after stints at Ajax and Newell’s Old Boys. The winger leaves Canada after his second stint, and the jury is still out whether he will return to MLS in a playing capacity.

Sam Adekugbe: Pacey fullback Adekugbe has left for Valerenga in Norway. A Vancouver academy graduate, Adekugbe has flirted with European football for the past few years with loan spells at Brighton and IFK Goteborg, he has finally made the permanent move to Europe.

2018 Key Transfers: New England Revolution

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we will be running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at New England Revolution and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

The 2017 season wasn’t one New England Revolution fans will remember fondly. The team finished seventh in the Eastern Conference for the second successive season. Their 13-15-6 record wasn’t terrible but the squad underperformed and conceded far too many goals. Only LA Galaxy and Minnesota United conceded more goals than the Revs (61) last time out. Brad Friedel has replaced Jay Heaps as the new head coach and Revs fans will hope his arrival ensures the defence is more solid in 2018 as they look to return to the playoffs. Lee Nguyen’s future remains unclear as the playmaker still wants out. He has returned to preseason training but it looks like being a long and potentially damaging transfer saga for both the club and the player…

Key Signings

Cristian Penilla: With Kei Kamara leaving (more on that below), New England had to ensure they brought in a fresh attacking option. The man they have turned to is Ecuadorian striker Cristian Penilla. The 26-year-old has played in the top flight in Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico, playing over 200 games. He joins New England on loan but with the option to buy at the end of the season. He might end up being a Designated Player for the Revs, but they are also considering using Targeted Allocation Money to buy down his contract if another big signing is made.

Jalil Anibaba: The Revs addressed their defensive issues by signing experienced MLS defender Anibaba. The 29-year-old joins the club after leaving Houston at the end of the 2017 campaign. He has played 166 regular season games since 2011 for Chicago, Seattle, Sporting KC and Houston. He might not be a regular starter but he’ll add some vital depth across the entire backline.

Wilfried Zahibo: Expect to see a lot of Zahibo in 2018. The French midfielder is a powerful ball-winner, who is vastly experienced despite being just 24. He joins the Revs on a free transfer after leaving Spanish second division side Gimnastic de Tarragona. He has previously played for Ajaccio, Fuenlabrada and Valencia. Friedel is likely to use Zahibo alongside Scott Caldwell in the centre of midfield.

Gabriel Somi: Another defensive addition, Somi is a Swedish-born Syrian who is most comfortable at left-back, but can play a number of positions. He joins on a free after departing Östersunds FK, who have been one of the Europa League’s success stories in 2017/18.

Notable Departures

Kei Kamara: The powerful striker has moved on after one-and-a-half seasons. It comes as no surprise after the player admitted he had never completely settled following his move from Columbus Crew midway through the 2016 season. His next challenge will be in Vancouver, after the Canadian side sent the Revs their first-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft in a trade for Kamara. He scored 12 goals and assisted five more in 31 games in 2017.

Benjamin Angoua: The 31-year-old defender leaves New England after just one season. He played 26 games and the club had the option to make his loan move permanent but declined after the Revs struggled so badly at the back in 2017.  He has since returned to France with Guingamp.

Xavier Kouassi: The midfield enforcer is perhaps unfortunate to have been moved on after just two seasons. Kouassi joined the Revs as a Designated Player in 2016 but was ruled out for the season after picking up a serious injury almost immediately. He played 23 games in 2017 and was impressive when healthy. However, New England decided not to give him one more season and have replaced him with Zahibo.

Gershon Koffie: Another midfielder to have left is Gershon Koffie. The 26-year-old has returned to Swedish side Hammarby after his loan expired. He played 23 games last season but couldn’t really stamp his mark on the midfield, despite his reputation of being a tough-tackling box-to-box engine. His departure, along with Kouassi’s and Daigo Kobayashi’s means the Revs will have a very different midfield in 2018.

Radio Cascadia Episode 140: A busy week in Portland and is Kei Kamara ready to lead the Whitecaps?

MLSGB has joined up with the Radio Cascadia podcast for the 2018 season, giving our readers the chance to catch up on all the latest news from the Pacific Northwest, where MLS clubs Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Vancouver Whitecaps look to continue to dominate the Western Conference. 

Radio Cascadia is a weekly podcast and is an authoritative steward of the Cascadian perspective, representing the most passionate, unified and unique fan bases in the country. Their passion is well justified, not only by the clubs’ nearly fifty years of shared history but also thanks to rampant success in the MLS era. Since 2011 (the first year all three clubs had made the switch over to the top flight from the USL), Cascadian MLS sides have won a combined total of five major trophies. Additional honours in that time frame include two CONCACAF Champions League semifinal appearances, three consecutive MLS Cup berths, and six consecutive Western Conference Championship appearances.

The latter two statistics above are active streaks, and clubs in Cascadia have just over a month of preseason left to prepare for their chance to continue these streaks on the stage of the 2018 MLS campaign.

In this week’s episode, host Jackson Felts of Seattle’s Sports Radio 950 KJR is joined by Sounders 2 announcer Andrew Harvey, MLSsoccer.com’s Ari Liljenwall and Radio Cascadia founder Steven Agen as they dissect the busiest week of 2018 so far. Five new players have joined Cascadian rosters since the last release, and there’s even a first preseason match to review!

Michael McColl of AFTN.ca calls in to give his take on the leadership situation in the Whitecaps’ locker room, and the extent to which Kei Kamara can fill the void. We spotlight Vancouver’s other new striker as well; Venezuelan Anthony Blondell as he looks poised for a breakout season. A group analysis of Whitecaps boss Carl Robinson’s ambitions for the season closes out the segment.

Matt Hoffman of Stumptown Footy reveals his favourite Timbers kit design as they released their new away strip for 2018 this week. The group pays due respect to the sweet gold accents on the new shirt, but most of the segment is devoted to analysis of the four new signings by the club in the span of only a few days.

Sounders have finally made a splash with their brand new chunk of discretionary Targeted Allocation Money, bringing in versatile Norwegian midfielder Magnus Eikrom on a free transfer. The news broke just in time for the group to develop opinions on where he’ll fit in Seattle’s attacking scheme in 2018. Elsewhere in the segment, Andrew Harvey gives his scouting report on new Homegrown Player Handwalla Bwana, who recorded a goal and an assist in Sounders’ preseason victory over Club Tijuana’s U-20 side on Sunday.

Find the latest RC show every Tuesday at radiocascadia.libsyn.com and follow the guys on Twitter @Radio_Cascadia.

Episode 140 Playlist:

00:00 – Introduction: Miami MLS expansion, Crew update

07:45 – Vancouver Whitecaps: Robbo’s ambition, Kei Kamara’s leadership, Anthony Blondell’s journey

27:45 – Portland Timbers: Four new faces, away kit revealed, 2018 Captain picks

47:05 – Seattle Sounders: First look at new TAM midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Bwana stars in 3-1 preseason win

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.”

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.

“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?

MLS Fantasy Focus: Make the most of the DGW ahead of Round 10

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

The headlines from Round 9 have all been about Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain’s mid-game row. Their exchange of words over a penalty that would have secured Kamara his hat trick – but was eventually taken by Higuain – is a story that has travelled around the world. It marred an incredible eight-goal game, but in this week’s Fantasy Focus, we promise to focus on the football being played, not the spats off the ball!

Round 9 Review 

The Good:

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The MAPFRE Stadium, home to Columbus Crew, undoubtedly provided us with the game of the weekend, where an incredible eight goals were scored in the 4-4 draw between the Crew and Montreal Impact. It had been a disappointing start to the season for Columbus, but two goals from both Kei Kamara ($11.1) and Federico Higuaín ($10.5) put Columbus 4-1 up with just over 30 minutes to play. Remarkably, the Impact came back from the dead to salvage a point thanks to Ignacio Piatti ($10.6), Didier Drogba ($11.8) and a last minute goal from Dominic Oduro ($7.6). We have once again entered the familiar territory of Piatti gaining the most points of any player this week – with an astounding 18! While Montreal may top the Eastern Conference, Colorado Rapids are the shock leaders of the Supporters’ Shield standings, following a 1-0 home victory against an equally impressive Real Salt Lake. Jermaine Jones ($8.2) netted the goal that was the difference between the two sides to earn his side three crucial points and further cement his place as one of the league’s top players even after his unceremonious exit from New England. Robbie Keane ($11.7) may have been sidelined with injuries for most of this campaign, but the Irishman netted a brace in the Galaxy’s fifth win of the campaign, picking up 13 points in his 59 minutes on the field. Furthermore, it couldn’t possibly be a good weekend without Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.3) getting a mention. The forward has now scored in four straight matches as Seattle won their fourth-straight home game against San Jose on Saturday.

The Bad:

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The only red card of the weekend was collected by Orlando’s Cristian Higuita ($6.7), who was sent off late on in his side’s 1-1 draw with New York Red Bulls. OCSC are now on a run of five games without a win and with star turns Kaka ($10.8) and Cyle Larin ($9.2) in their side – it is fair to expect more from the men in purple. Meanwhile, Dallas failed to score and lost for the third consecutive outing. It has to be worrying the Texans with forward Maximiliano Urruti ($8.5) needing to regain the form that got him three goals in the opening four MLS games. Portland Timbers’ winless away run continued after defeat at Vancouver, while Sporting Kansas City also suffered a defeat away to Houston Dynamo. SKC are now winless in six after winning four of their opening five. Designated Players Benny Feilhaber ($10.9) and Graham Zusi ($10.1) will be expected to produce their finest form in the coming weeks, starting with this week’s DGW.

Round 10 Preview

Double Gameweek Must-Haves:

Jermaine Jones ($8.2):

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The Rapids are in tremendous form and it was sparked by Jermaine Jones’ entrance to the team. Fresh from his contract dispute with the Revs and his six-match ban for making repeated physical contact with referee Mark Geiger, the fire is very much within Jones’ play. Thrust into a more attacking role, he’s playing as well as he ever has – even at the age of 34.

Andrew Wenger ($7.2):

Houston have finally returned to some sort of form with a win over SKC and Wenger was instrumental in achieving the victory. Fixtures against San Jose and Real Salt Lake aren’t easy – but they’re certainly not the most difficult cards to be dealt at this point in the season. I would be shocked if Wenger didn’t pick up 10 points across the two games this week. If you don’t fancy Wenger, teammate Alex ($6.1) is bound to pick up a solid number of points at a cheap price.

Fanendo Adi ($10.3):

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The pinpoint in the Timbers’ MLS Cup winning attack, Adi is in fine form and with Diego Valeri ($10.5) pulling the strings behind him, he looks set to keep firing in goal after goal. He may be whisked away for international duty with Nigeria in Round 12, but he will be back in a flash – unlike other forward options like Giles Barnes ($8.5) and Chris Wondolowski ($10.7), who will exiting the league for the Copa America Centenario.

Maynor Figueroa ($6.7):

This is a risky one. Dallas may’ve lost three on the trot, but the former Wigan defender has performed solidly throughout and is still garnering plenty of bonus points. If Dallas were to keep a clean sheet in either of their two home games this week against the Sounders or the Timbers, it would be a shame to miss out on almost certain double figures. It’s also hard to ignore that Dallas are the only side to play both their games at home this week and Figueroa represents a solid pick.

Which players will you transfer in for Round 10’s DGW?

MLS Fantasy Focus: Week 9 tips ahead of latest DGW

By Jamie Dawe

With another double gameweek just hours away, MLS Fantasy managers will be scrambling to make sure they have signed on the players who are expected to shine this week.

Here are some players for you to ponder before tonight’s deadline:

Megabucks – David Villa ($11.2)

Even when his side aren’t performing, ‘El Guaje’ is still racking up the points. With two home matches in a row this gameweek, I’m sure the World Cup winner won’t be far from the back of the net during both games. He costs a lot, but he should deliver the goods this DGW.

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Bargain-Priced Superstar – Diego Fagundez ($8.1)

The Revs are another side that haven’t been performing to their usual standards and for the last few games, nor has Fagundez. He may not have ever quite recaptured his form from his stunning 2013 season, but he is a reliable points scorer and is expected to start both games for the Revs this week – which like NYCFC, are both at home.

The Low Budget – Fraser Aird ($6.6)

The Scottish/Canadian wingback and his Vancouver side are looking to push on after their sumptuous victory over Supporters’ Shield leaders FC Dallas on Saturday. Aird has been ever present so far this season and with his side facing SKC at home, followed by a trip to the Yankee Stadium – there’s certainly potential for clean sheets and assists too.

The Shot Stopper – Bobby Shuttleworth ($5.8)

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For me, Shuttleworth has been one of the standout ‘keepers so far this season, even if his defence has repeatedly let him down. Even with DC United putting three past him on Saturday, he managed to pick up 4 points, which is extremely impressive. Just imagine how many points he would collect if he were to keep a clean sheet against either the Timbers or Orlando at Gillette Stadium this week.

The Outsider – Kei Kamara ($10.9)

Kei Kamara and his comrades play just once this week, away to Seattle. ‘Why would you pick him?’, you may ask. Well, Seattle evidently still haven’t fully grown comfortable with playing on grass at home and Kamara and the Crew are finally hitting form, winning their last two, with Kamara picking up two goals. After this week, the Crew have consecutive home fixtures against Montreal Impact and Colorado, so if he doesn’t score this week, he’s bound to garner some precious points across the next few.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Red Card Alberg

Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?

Podcast: Portland, Columbus & Southampton discussed

In this week’s MLSGB Podcast Zack Walford talks to Jamie Ives and Louis East about Week 3’s MLS action, with focus on the Portland Timbers and Columbus Crew’s disappointing starts.

The team then look at Southampton FC and ask whether they have enough to secure European football next term.

As always, comment below or get in touch on Twitter with your thoughts.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Portland Timbers vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew

Venue: Providence Park – Sunday, March 6 – 16:30 ET (21:30 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 1) 

Match Odds: Portland 23/20 – Draw 23/10 – Columbus 12/5

Match Preview

Portland Timbers host Columbus Crew in a repeat of the 2015 MLS Cup Final on Sunday night as the 2016 MLS Season springs into life in style.

Portland enter the new campaign as MLS Cup holders for the first time and now need to cope with that pressure against the side they beat 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium in December.

Caleb Porter insists the team are preparing for this game as they do every other, but there is no question that bigger things are expected of the Timbers coming into 2016 than in any previous year.

They had a mixed preseason run, winning three of their eight games, but will need to improve on the back-to-back defeats that brought their preparations to a close.

Columbus didn’t win a game in any of their three preseason friendlies but will be out for revenge at Providence Park on Sunday, with the cup final defeat still at the very front of players’ minds.

Gregg Berhalter has not made many changes to the squad over the offseason and that should help the Crew maintain the same playing style from the outset here.

It will be intriguing to see how Kei Kamara performs after enjoying an incredible return to MLS last year. Finding the net in his first game would certainly set the tone for what could, and should be another good year for the Crew. He has just penned a new contract making him a Designated Player and will hope to deliver straight away.

Both sides are expected to be challenging at the top end of the Supporters’ Shield standings come the end of the regular season and so getting off to a good start will be important.

Team News

Portland are sweating over the fitness of defender Liam Ridgewell and winger Dairon Asprilla. Ridgewell has a tight calf but should be fit, though Asprilla might have to miss the opener with an ankle sprain. Other than that, Caleb Porter has a full squad available. New signing and former Crew man Chris Klute should start at left-back.

Columbus boss Gregg Berhalter has no injury concerns heading into the season opener and will be able to pick his strongest possible team as a result.

Key Points

Portland Timbers’ preseason form: L/D/W/W/D/W/L/L

Columbus Crew’s preseason form: D/D/L

Key Stat: Columbus have yet to win away at Portland in MLS (D2 L1).

Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Portland playmaker scored inside a minute when these sides met in last year’s MLS Cup Final. He will look to hurt Columbus yet again and is always a threat with his exceptional passing range.

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Score Prediction

Portland Timbers 1-1 Columbus Crew – This is expected to be a tight battle between two sides desperate to avoid defeat on the opening day of the new season. Portland are the reigning champions but will need to handle the pressure of being favourites, rather than underdogs now. Columbus will be out for revenge but have yet to win in Portland and would do very well to leave with three points on Sunday.