By JOSIAH TAKANG (@jtakang22_7)
Photo credit goes to goal.com.
Columbus Crew SC striker Kei Kamara has been traded to the New England Revolution following a bizarre on-pitch incident during Crew SC's 4-4 draw against the Montreal Impact.
In return for Kamara, Columbus received quite a haul: general allocation money, targeted allocation money, two future MLS SuperDraft picks and a 2016 international roster spot (e.g. a non-American or Canadian player), all of which could be used to bolster the club's lagging attack and porous defense.
“Kei had a memorable 2015 season, and we recognize and understand how popular and productive he was, so this decision was not one we made lightly,” Crew manager Gregg Berhalter said in a USA Today article. “Our actions will always reflect the values of our club, and we believe this transaction will improve our competitiveness this year and in future years.”
The timing of the blockbuster trade is altogether unsurprising, as it comes just days after a bizarre incident during Columbus' aforementioned wild 4-4 draw May 8 against the Montreal Impact.
Kamara, a Sierra Leone international sitting on two goals at that point in the match, became involved in a viscerally ugly public shouting match with teammate Federico Higuain over who would take a penalty kick; the argument was only interrupted by a sharp admonishing from Crew captain and U.S. international Michael Parkhurst.
Higuain took and converted the penalty, but clearly, Kamara wasn't pleased post-match. During the interview, he criticized Higuain, implying he was selfish for taking the penalty (which he ultimately made).
Kamara was suspended one match by the Crew for his behavior, but the Sierra Leonean refused to apologize and disagreed with the punitive measures taken.
"I said what is on my mind and in my head," Berhalter said. "The action of Kei, speaking out against a teammate, is unacceptable. We have zero tolerance for that. Therefore, he won't be playing in the game Saturday -- coach's decision.
"And then we try to move forward in the right way. We're a team that keeps things together. We keep things between ourselves, and that's why that decision was made."
"The action of Kei, speaking out against a teammate, is unacceptable. We have zero tolerance for that."
Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain. Photo credit goes to USA Today.
Unfortunately, it appears Kamara won't get to play that match in the black and yellow of Columbus. The sordid situation finally came to an end right before the close of the MLS transfer window with Kamara shipping up to Boston to don the red, white and blue of a struggling Revs side.
Kamara, drafted ninth overall by Columbus in the 2006 MLS draft, scored 22 regular-season goals and was named to the MLS Best XI for the first time in his career last season. Kamara has also donned the kits of the San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City, Premier League side Norwich City and recently-promoted Premier League club Middlesbrough.
Hopefully, the move to Boston will give him an opportunity to get his wits about him, but some fault does lie on the Crew front office. One could easily question the wisdom of trading arguably the most dangerous striker in the league to a conference rival.
That's like the Oklahoma City Thunder trading Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Clippers. It's shooting yourself in the foot; surely, the Crew had better suitors for Kamara in the Western Conference.
The Crew, though, did get an international slot and enough allocation funds to buy a big player in the summer transfer window, plus several good draft picks (I do question the continuing validity of the MLS draft, but that's another story). The men at work won't be competing for an MLS Cup or Supporters' Shield this season, but they'll be fine in the long run.