Sometimes rumors prove to be just talk, in the case of Kei Kamara, well…
Rumor had it that before the window closed for the MLS’ primary transfer and trade at midnight CT on Thursday, Columbus Crew SC was discussing a potential trade for striker Kei Kamara per Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl. A later source confirmed this rumor to be true in a report to MLS soccer. On Thursday, the rumor would be found to be officially true as it was announced that Kamara would soon be headed to New England.
The designated player caused a pretty big commotion on Saturday in a dispute with fellow designated player and former teammate Federico Higuain over who would take a penalty kick in the second half of their match against the Montreal Impact.
Teammate Justin Meram was fouled in the Montreal box and Kamara, who already had two goals to his name in the match, took the ball and was prepared to take the kick for his first career hat trick before Higuain grabbed the ball and walked toward the spot to take the kick instead. After arguing on the field with some input from Ethan Finlay and Michael Parkhurst, Higuain took the shot and made it making the score 4-1 over the Impact.
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Through the rest of the match Kamara was clearly upset and made it known on the field. After the match, Kamara put Higuain on blast publicly to the press by not only calling him selfish, but saying that Higuain has not ever done enough to assist in goal scoring. Kamara made it clear toward the end of the press conference that he does not plan on playing as a teammate with Higuain by implying that he simply can’t rely on him. The star striker’s comments resulted in Columbus Crew FC’s head coach Gregg Berhalter suspending him from Saturday’s match against Colorado.
Berhalter also admitted on Tuesday that interested has continued to pour in over Kamara and even though the teams in the MLS already have their allotted number of designated players, it isn’t surprising to anyone that other teams are interested in such a high-profile player while controversy arises. “I’ve got a number of emails about both, Berhalter said in an interview. “Hey, what’s up with this guy? What’s up with that guy?”
Kamara, who has been no stranger to being traded throughout the league, wasn’t surprised at all about the rumor, in fact, he gave off more of the vibe that he believed that the talks of a trade were simply that… just talks. “It doesn’t surprise me. But it’s just trade talks.” He said in an interview with a grin on his face. “I didn’t hear it from the coach this morning when I talked to him.” Kamara later tried to ease his fans’ worries through twitter by saying “It’s just rumors guys… stay calm” with a picture of himself attached.
As it would turn out, as the deadline came for MLS trades, so did Kamara’s trade announcement. While it was probably a pretty good idea on the controversial end of the limelight for the Crew, it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense if you decided to dig a little deeper into what this could mean for Columbus. Truth be told, Kamara isn’t the type of athlete that you just want to hand around like a used toy. Just last year, he was tied for the top spot for the most amount of goals in the league at 22 taking Columbus all the way to the MLS Cup. By the end of playoffs, he had 26 goals to his name topping the league and earning himself a contract with the Crew as a Designated Player. So, in short, Columbus didn’t just trade their top player, they traded one of the best strikers in the league.
Almost immediately following the trade, a tweet came from the team’s owner, Anthony Precourt, highlighting the idea that the past weekend’s controversy was not the reason for the trade, however it was a minor straw in the grand scheme of the haystack that broke the camel’s back. What does this mean about Kamara? Could it possibly mean that through the course of his career he’s always been somewhat of a less humble, egotistical jock? What doesn’t make sense is why this wasn’t addressed earlier… the team seemed to deal with whatever is going on with Kamara pretty well last season.
While this may eliminate some controversy for a while for Columbus Crew, it could be one of the biggest mistakes made by the club this season. They might have just given the team that sits above them on the current standings one of the biggest assets to the league while they perform subpar in the ninth spot of the standings.