When New England Revolution fans woke up on Thursday morning, it appeared as if the Major League Soccer trade deadline had passed without a whimper. Social media feeds were quiet, no press release rolled through and rumors lacked might.
However, come mid-morning, the Revs announced their intent and urgency to climb out of the Eastern Conference's cellar with a blockbuster trade. Kei Kamara, a 2015 MVP finalist and Golden Boot runner-up, was swapping Columbus Crew SC's black and gold for New England's red, white and blue.
The move, according to general manager Mike Burns, transpired at the 11th hour, and the tight deadline certainly helped matters along. Nonetheless, the fact remains that the 31-year-old striker's 79 goals and 31 assists in MLS are now at head coach Jay Heaps' disposal.
"In the end of it, we were able to get it done and feel good about it," Burns said. "We were trying to add another attacking piece and forward to the group, and we felt we've addressed it with a guy who has had proven success in this league and has been a proven goalscorer in this league. Those aren't easy to find."
Burns added that Heaps and the entire coaching staff have been trying to add a piece for quite some time, and the best part of the deal is no Revolution player is heading to Columbus in return. Instead, the Crew are gaining General Allocation Money, Targeted Allocation Money, New England's highest first round pick in 2017, New England's highest second round pick in 2018 and one of New England's international roster spots for the 2016 season.
The deal might seem lopsided to some, but Kamara brings experience that few others can replicate. He has appeared 24 times for the Sierra Leone national team, earned a combined 36 appearances for English outfits Norwich City F.C. and Middlesbrough F.C. and already has five goals in the 2016 MLS season.
Heaps, who expects Kamara to be available for selection on Saturday against the Chicago Fire, said the Revs now have a "true number nine."
"That's why you make a move like this, to add a true goal-scorer, and he scores differently than our other guys," Heaps said. "He can score from service, he can score on his own, he can create his own, so we're excited about adding that. We provide good service, so we feel he's going to fit well into what we're doing, and also the guys around him play to his strengths."
In spite of Kamara's well-documented successes, one concerning plot line is a recent spat between Kamara and Crew maestro Federico Higuaín. Heaps didn't want to officially comment on the situation, but Burns urged the front office did all it's on-field and off-field homework and that a change of scenery might prove fruitful.
Teal Bunbury, who began his professional career at Sporting Kansas City when he and Kamara both called Sporting Park home, was overjoyed to hear about his new teammate.
"He's going to add that aerial battle, that physicality for us, and add more depth to our team, which is going to be great now we have some home games coming up and some games where we need to get wins and need points," the forward said. "This is a great addition to our team."
All things considered, the Revs demonstrated on Thursday that they're not afraid to pull the trigger if the situation demands such action. Defensive questions still linger, but, on paper, the Revs are poised to bust out of their early-season rut.
"I wouldn't say we're struggling for goals, but it's always nice to add another goal-scorer," midfielder Kelyn Rowe said. "I think [Kei is] one of those that's proven he can put the ball in the back of the net, works really hard and is very dangerous in the air. We're excited."