When news dropped Thursday morning that the New England Revolution had acquired Kei Kamara from Columbus Crew SC via a trade, reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and understandably so. After all, the 31-year-old striker has scored 79 goals throughout 234 MLS games, was an MVP finalist and Golden Boot runner-up in 2015 and has an inspiring story as a refugee from Sierra Leone.
Yet, as knee-jerk sentiments settled, one question emerged: Where exactly does Kamara fit in Jay Heaps' lineup?
Given the head coach's plethora of attacking options - the least of which are Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, Charlie Davies, Diego Fagundez, Femi Hollinger-Janzen, Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez - there appears to be a logjam in the attacking third. Don't go telling that to general manager Mike Burns, though, as he explained that the "11th hour" move doesn't present a selection problem.
"Not for me, I say not for me," Burns said. "I would say I've very rarely heard any coach through any organization say they have too many good forwards."
As things stand, New England's attacking core has historically had success in front of goal. The glut of midfielders, wingers and strikers have found the net a combined 170 times across their MLS careers, and boast international experience at the youth and senior levels.
While Kamara's acquisition complicates matters a bit, Heaps urged that it presents a tempting opportunity and different situations might even require a formation change.
"The guys, they're going to earn it," Heaps said. "I think that's the best way to put. Guys on the field will step on the field because they've earned it. We've made a lot of subs, guys have played a lot of minutes, and now it's a matter of who's going to take the role and run with it."
Rowe, who advanced that the Revs pride themselves on depth and being a tight-knit group, felt as though Kamara won't disturb any dynamic. Rather, his presence will only raise the level of each player and the team as a whole.
"We play a lot with each other on the field and we're joking around in the locker room off the field, so adding one person in and meeting Kamara a couple times, I think he's going to be fine off the field," Rowe said. "Then he creates that little bit of pressure on the field. It's always good to add more players and add more competition because it just makes us better."
Mindful of Rowe's sentiments, the truth remains that New England can now get at teams in myriad ways. There's Agudelo's dynamism, Bunbury's athleticism, Davies' persistence, Hollinger-Janzen's super-sub role, Nguyen's creativity and Fagundez's dribbling. One can add Kamara's imposing stature and proven finishing ability to that mix.
Only time will tell what sort of impact Kamara has on and off the field, but, in the results-oriented business that is soccer, New England has the potential to catapult itself up the standings.
"Kei's a great player," Bunbury said. "He's going to want to play every minute of every game just as much as everyone on the team currently. But competition always brings out the best in each player and I think it's going to motivate us a team as well to try and push each other."