When the Revolution traded allocation money, draft picks and an international roster spot to Columbus Crew SC for forward Kei Kamara, Foxboro rejoiced. The club had seemingly acquired the game-changing goalscorer it desperately needed.
Now six months later, the Kamara trade has earned mixed reviews; the man who scored 27 goals in 40 starts for Colubmus scored just six in 20 starts for the Revolution.
Has Kamara lived up to the hype? Our staff grades the blockbuster deal that brought him to Foxboro.
Kei Kamara is an outstanding goalscorer with a charming personality, so I was willing to take a wait-and-see approach to the midseason transaction. Several months later, it's clear to me that it hasn't worked out. Kamara has only scored six goals in 20 appearances for the Revs, which is only one more than the amount he scored in the nine games he played for Crew SC before being traded.
The low lot can at least partially be attributed to Kamara's style not meshing well with the Revs. The Revs traditionally like to keep the ball on the carpet, relying largely on quick passes to unlock opposing defenses. Accurate crosses from the wing, a favorite of Kamara's, are rare for the Revs, outside of Chris Tierney.
Kamara has had some promising games for the Revs and he still has years left on his contract. With that in mind, this grade could certainly improve.
Let's all step into Mike Burns' shoes in early May for a second. You're looking to vault up the Eastern Conference standings, and a forward who scored 22 times in 2015-16 comes across the trade wire. You take a gander at your roster, noticing the creative forces of Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. They're the perfect pieces to tee Kamara up for goals galore, right? Not quite.
The problem, as has been pointed out far and wide, is Kamara's playing style differs from the Revs' traditional approach. Fans are used to seeing New England ping the ball around in the attacking third, intricately working towards that picture-perfect goal. Kamara, however, thrives in a more direct system where he can use his aerial prowess and physically out-class defenders. Plus, with Kamara as the lone striker in a 4-3-3 system, he often got isolated.
Head coach Jay Heaps recognized this towards the end of the season, switching to a 4-4-2 diamond formation, but it was too little too late. Kamara never truly regained his prolific form from a year ago, even though his partnership up top with Juan Agudelo proved fruitful. In all, the move wasn't an abject failure by any means, as Kamara has six goals and two assists in 20 games, but it could have gone far better. With the million-dollar salary Kamara is paid, his output demands better.
And to Revs fans who want to ream Burns out for acquiring Kamara: You would have made the exact same decision. Hindsight is 20/20.
If we're grading the overall results of this trade, then it's a mixed bag for the Revolution. Kamara did significantly better late in the season when New England switched to a two striker formation and move Juan Agudelo up top with Kei. In particular, Kei registered his only two assists in wins against the Impact and Sporting KC when the Revs won four of five games in a stretch starting in September. But that falls more on Jay Heaps than the Revs front office as the Revs struggled to score goals and get results for most of the year despite a run to the U.S. Open Cup final.
The value the Revs got in acquiring Kei was largely offset with a similar trade of Charlie Davies to the Union in the summer, however that deadline move gave the Revs front office no time to make another addition with the window closing. I think the Kei trade was still solid for the front office, but if we're talking on the field then overall it has to be a disappointment. Like most of New England this year, the potential for Kei to be successful was there but sadly didn't pan out like so many other things for the Revs this year. A full preseason training camp and the experience learned with his teammates this year have to pan out next season for the Revs if they want to rebound with this core in 2017.
How would you grade the Kei Kamara trade? Tell us below.