Kei Kamara continues to adjust to new role with New England Revolution

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Nearly 11 months after being traded midseason from Columbus Crew SC to the New England Revolution, Kei Kamara feels he’s still trying to find his way.

“I’m still developing a role to be honest,” Kamara told after Thursday’s training at Gillette Stadium. “Preseason was good with connecting with these guys and getting to know them on and off the field, which is really important. I think I figured out most parts of it.”

The Designated Player, who has eight goals and two assists in 25 games with the Revs, certainly isn’t experiencing a dry spell. Kamara is, however, far removed from his form on Gregg Berhalter’s Columbus teams, a stretch that saw him bag 27 goals in 41 games and be named a 2015 MLS MVP finalist.

The Sierra Leone native acknowledged as much, saying he doesn’t “see something like that coming back” while playing in Jay Heaps’ system. He further noted that Heaps’ style asks him to make runs out wide and open up space for others, unlike Berhalter’s where he was the target man and “everything came through me.”

Heaps recognized that difference, saying that New England is working on getting early service into Kamara and maximizing his strongest trait: Using his 6-foot-3 frame to get on the end of crosses.

If that’s done, Heaps said more production like Kamara’s sole tally in 2017 – the second in New England’s 5-2 rout of Minnesota United FC on March 25 – will become commonplace.

“We want to continue to be positive and let him know that it’s not just Kei’s responsibility to finish,” Heaps said. “Players around him have to create for him, also have to look for him. I think our guys are continuing to try and do that and get that understanding of where he is. ... Goals are going to come for Kei, it’s just a matter of how many chances he’s getting.”

The bulk of those chances come from New England’s 4-4-2 diamond formation, and more specifically through Lee Nguyen, their No. 10, and Juan Agudelo, Kamara's strike partner. 

They combined against Minnesota to the tune of four goals and an assist, and Agudelo said he’s confident similar showings are in the works. What’s more important, though, Agudelo added, is Kamara helps the Revs snatch three points.

“The most important thing is to get wins and he’s helped us get the win that we had this year,” Agudelo said. “It’s not just by scoring, but by other things. Being a threat and being a presence is what has opened up space for others, and then it helps us give him the ball when he’s in a good position.”

All things considered, goals may not be flowing for Kamara, but he’s not worried. Rather, the 32-year-old said that playing alongside Nguyen, Agudelo and others means he won’t always be the focal point.

That fact, he said, is something he’s still adjusting to.

“I’m still trying to adapt to everything,” Kamara said. “Yes, some goals are going to come my way, but I think in this team it’s that those goals are going to be spread out throughout the team.”