Normally when we do these Q&A posts, we're previewing a game but this whole Kei Kamara trade saga has a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Most of these answers can be found in Columbus, so we sent some questions to Massive Report's Pat Murphy who was kind enough to help us figure out why New England Revolution twitter blew up so unexpectedly just 24 hours ago.
TBM: Okay first things first, how in the heck did we get into this spot? What happened in the last week that would make Columbus trade a DP-scoring machine like Kei Kamara?
PM: Well, if you believe ESPN's Jeff Carlisle, and you probably should because he's pretty dialed in, these talks between Crew SC and the Revs started before stuff hit the fan in Columbus.
I think we should go back a bit though because this doesn't all start with last week, our Josh Mlot wrote up a handy timeline here. In the preseason, Kamara decided he needed a new contract. He's a player towards the end of his career, had one of the best seasons for a forward in league history, and felt he deserved more from the club. While it never got to a hold out, it was very close. Kei was given some serious Designated Player money and everything was hunky dory, or so we thought.
The short version of the last few days is that Kamara has never scored a hat trick and was on two goals in the second half against the Montreal Impact last Saturday when the team was awarded a penalty kick. Kamara had taken and converted the only PK for the Black & Gold this season, but there was a dispute between Kei and Federico Higuain over who would take it (Gregg Berhalter later took blame saying he should have clarified which player would take spot kicks for that game). Without going into too much detail, Kamara was unhappy about missing out on his first career hat trick, played rather selfishly the rest of the game, then went on a rant about how he doesn't need Higuain after that match which brought to light some hidden issues between the two.
The following Tuesday (the first day of training for the club), Berhalter revealed Kamara would sit out Saturday's match against the Colorado Rapids due to speaking out about a teammate to the media. Kei told us he did not agree with that suspension, but said he would do what the coach said. This clearly didn't make Berhalter happy. If there were potential trade talks before the weekend's game, they certainly heated up since Saturday.
I don't want to immediately draw similarities between Kamara and Jermaine Jones, but given the two recent sagas, do these two players have similar personalities? What should New England expect from Kei?
PM: I don't know much about Jones and his personality, but I can tell you a lot about Kei. He's a lot of fun 99% of the time. Even talking to him on Tuesday, he had a smile on his face and was cracking jokes. He's a great guy and most players said today that for the most part, he was a good teammates. Kei is loyal and committed, but he's also a striker and some of the best of them in the world, throughout the history of the sport, have been me guys. Kei can be that way.
Last season, there were no issues with Kamara. He was available when media requests were made. He was having fun with his teammates on the field. Things were great. But the team was also winning. This season when things didn't go as well to start the year, Kei didn't speak to the media for two weeks and then when he did, said it was the club's communication staff that asked him not to (maybe now we know why).
I think Kamara will be happy to have this situation behind him and be on to a new club. He's not a stranger to moving and although I think he saw Columbus as a home even after his career ended, I think he'll probably be just fine in
TBM: A few people, Rob Stone of FOX Soccer comes to mind, think that Columbus got the better of this deal, what are your thoughts on how much the Crew got back for Kamara?
PM: Honestly, I was surprised by it. I thought that clubs would attempt to lowball Crew SC because it was obvious that something had to change. There were rumors about a deal with the Vancouver Whitecaps that would have seen Octavio Rivero come to Columbus along with some cash and that seemed more realistic to me.
I read Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle's piece today and he pointed out that the Revs are not big spenders and this money may have just sat there anyway. Thinking about New England's history, this makes sense so to me it's a win-win. The Revs are getting a player that should improve them right now and Columbus is getting rid of a guy who apparently caused issues and now they have the flexibility to make future moves.
TBM: Kei is a typical #9 and did wonders in a similar system, how well do you think he'll fit up top in the Revs offense?
PM: Great honestly. I know New England is a team that likes to get crosses into the box. Kamara is a guy who likes to get on the end of crosses and knows how to finish them. He reshaped Columbus' focus on attack because he could climb over nearly every defender in this league and get the ball. Players like Harrison Afful and Waylon Francis simply had to put the ball in his general area and more times than not, the cross resulted in an assist.
The one question I have about Kei is how long he'll be around. He said after the MLS Cup loss a year ago that he would have retired if the team won, so that is clearly on his mind. He's already begun taking acting classes and plans on moving on to that field after his playing days are over. One year? Maybe two? But those could be some good years for the Revolution's attack.
The last thing I will say is I don't think Revs fans should be scared of acquiring Kamara just because of this incident. Yes, it was ugly and he handled himself in a poor way, but wearing his emotions on his sleeve are part of what makes Kei great. I think the fans in New England will enjoy watching him play and love interacting with him. He's great with fans of all ages and an all-around super guy. I'm certainly going to miss covering him and wish him the best of luck with the new club.
Again, thanks to Pat for taking the time to answer those questions, because the biggest issue that needs to go away is the notion that Kamara is a "locker room cancer."
Sure, I think most people agree that Kamara was probably too outspoken after the Higuain penalty spat last week, but whatever issues Kei had in Columbus are probably staying in Columbus. The Revolution locker room has long been a place of interesting characters and I see no reason to think that Kei won't hit it off immediately with the other players.
Most importantly however is the impact Kamara should have on the field. Two years ago the Revs defeated the Crew in the Eastern Conference playoffs, a wild, high-scoring series that left Columbus essentially with a solid core that needed a great striker up front to get them to the next level.
Enter Kamara in the offseason and a trip to MLS Cup in 2015, again, eerily similar to what the Revs did when the added Jones in 2014. While Jones wasn't supposed to be a goal scoring threat for the Revs, he did put up solid offensive numbers to vault the Revs up the standings and into a deep playoff run.
New England is now hoping that Kamara can provide the same lift he gave Columbus from 2015 to last week, and the stats don't lie: Kei scores goals. Lots of goals, 27 of them in 41 games not counting the 4 playoff goals from last year's MLS Cup Finals run. Will Kamara have a similar impact that Jones had in 2014? Time will tell, but that breakthrough game I've been asking the Revs to have, where they paste someone 4-1...
Well, I'm really glad Chicago is in town tomorrow.