How has the Kei Kamara experiment worked out in New England so far?

After scoring a career-high 22 goals last season, Kei Kamara seemed poised for another MVP-level season with Columbus Crew SC in 2016. Of course, it didn't work out that way, as a dispute over a penalty kick bled into the media, then resulted in a trade from Crew SC to the New England Revolution on May 12.

In five games with the Revolution, Kamara has failed to tally a single goal or assist despite what many assumed would be a smooth transition. After all, much like his former employers, New England faithfully deploy the 4-2-3-1. Instead of Federico Higuain, Lee Nguyen would pull the strings. Nguyen is fourth in MLS in chances created from open play (30) and third in chances created (44).

New England has plenty of quality flank options as well, such as Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo, Diego Fagundez and Kelyn Rowe. Furthermore, substitute the very capable Chris Tierney for Waylon Francis (five assists on Kamara goals in 2015). The point? There was reason to believe the Revs would provide the sort of service that Kamara exploited so well in 2015.

So why the slow start?

Individual Performance

Yes, Kamara is struggling to reproduce his All-Star level form of 2015 so far with the Revs, but the dearth of goals with New England is likely the result of a small sample size. We dug deeper to identify what's changed over the past five games.

Statistic Per 90 Minutes in 2016
New England
Headed Shots
Total Shots Inside the Box
Total Shots Outside the Box
Inside Shots/Outside Shots
Dribbles Attempted

It's almost hard to believe that the two columns are the same player. The numbers strongly suggest that Kamara is dropping deeper and occupying wider positions with New England. He dribbles almost twice as many times per game, his touches increased by almost 30 percent per 90 minutes and his headed shots dropped by half, despite being involved in more aerial duels.

Below is Kamara's heat map from last Saturday's 2-0 loss to D.C. United. As you can see, his touches were clustered around the sideline and outside the 18-yard-box.

How has the Kei Kamara experiment worked out in New England so far? -

The increased involvement in buildup play at the expense of being present in the box is clearly hurting Kamara’s attacking output. But he is still a prolific finisher, as he's proven during stints with Sporting KC and Columbus.

While with Crew SC, Kamara managed to score on 50 percent of his big chances. With chances come goals, but it will be hard for Kamara to replicate his previous production if he continues to drift away from the penalty box, where his poaching abilities are best utilized.

Team Qualities

Since Kamara's arrival, the Revs have created an average of 8.8 chances per game compared to an average of Columbus' 10.9 chances when the Sierra Leone-born forward was in the team. Simply put, Kamara’s time with Columbus was marked by more productive attacking play:

How has the Kei Kamara experiment worked out in New England so far? -

Team Performance

In short, Kamara hasn't benefited from the same level of service with the Revs as he did during his time with Crew SC. Regardless, Kamara’s arrival corresponded with a positive trend on New England’s overall team performance. Take a look at New England with and without Kamara this year, and the numbers speak for themselves:

How has the Kei Kamara experiment worked out in New England so far? -

It's important to note that while the focus of our analysis has been on Kamara’s offensive output, his strong aerial ability is utilized as a defensive weapon. No single player has benefited more from his arrival than Nguyen, who's scored three goals and added four assists since the striker's arrival.

Given Kamara's past production, it is unlikely that this goal drought will continue, but unless New England start to utilize his unique abilities around goal, it is difficult to imagine him being as effective as he was last season in Columbus.

Nikolai Staugaard Eriksen (@NikolaiStause) contributed to this article.