2015 MVP runner-up and goalscoring machine Kei Kamara is a Revolution player.
Major League Soccer's 2016 Spring Transfer Window closed this morning at 1:00 AM, with no apparent movement on the part of the New England Revolution. For a team that has struggled both to score and prevent goals, this had the potential to seem a curious decision to say the least.
"Apparent movement" is the key phrase there, because in reality, the Revs were quietly working on a blockbuster. Kamara leaves Columbus Crew SC, where a public feud with playmaker Federico Higuain was creating an untenable situation, and will arrive in Foxboro hoping to continue goalscoring form that has seen him put up five goals in nine games in 2016.
"We have been looking to strengthen our team and we feel that this addition accomplishes just that," said Revolution General Manger Michael Burns. "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 is obviously a divisive figure right now. He was suspended (coach's decision) by Crew SC for taking his disagreements with Higuain out into the open with the media after Columbus' 4-4 draw with Montreal on May 7th. Kamara defended his comments and his right to speak his mind and seemed unhappy with the decision. It's the sort of chemistry-disrupting behavior that would give any organization pause, but for New England, the benefits outweigh those fears.
In return, the Revs are giving up both General Allocation Money and Targeted Allocation Money, their highest first-round 2017 SuperDraft pick, their second-round 2018 SuperDraft pick, an international roster spot for the 2016 season, and a percentage of any future transfer profits. According to a tweet from Jeff Carlisle, the allocation money number is $300k, a league record. It's a massive haul for a player who has done some massive work in the box in the last decade.
Just last season, Kamara became only the second player in Crew SC history to break the 20-goal mark, and also set single-season team records in shots, shots on goal, and game-winning goals. His four post-season goals lead the field.
It's the shot numbers that may be most intriguing to the Revolution - despite fluid movement and a wealth of chances, the Revs seem to lack a go-to, selfish shooter. Diego Fagundez is the team's current shots leader with 27, less than half the number of the league leader (David Villa, 58). Kamara himself has 36, with 13 on target, one more than Kelyn Rowe, who takes the cake for the Revs in that category in an 8-way tie for 7th place in the league.
That said, the Revs are third in the league in total shots and tied for sixth in shots on goal, though there are a number of teams who have played fewer games. Adding a free-shooting goal-hog like Kamara could lead to serious fireworks at Gillette Stadium this summer.
Prior to his career-best 2015 season, Kamara spent time in England with Middlesbrough in the Championship, and on loan in the Premier League with Norwich City before that. The loan came while he was on the books with Sporting KC, the team where he broke out, logging 38 goals and 20 assists from 2009-2013, primarily as a "target winger." He had joined Kansas City from Houston, and there from San Jose, who acquired him in 2008 from Columbus, the team that drafted him in 2006.
Kamara is also a Sierra Leonean international, having made 24 appearances for the National Team and scoring four goals. He's also deeply involved in charity work in his native country, winning the 2015 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year award and a 2015 FIFPro Merit Award, along with fellow Sierra Leonean footballer and MLS midfielder Michael Lahoud. Kamara has also been a beloved community figure in Kansas City, and was an active participant in Crew SC's community outreach programs.
There is no official word yet on when he will join the team, or if he will be available on Saturday against Chicago.