KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Kei Kamara is headed back to England, this time with both eyes on staying there for good.
Sporting Kansas City announced Monday that they have transfered their prized forward to Championship side Middlesbrough FC, ending a run that saw Kamara become one of the most recognizable and reliable players during Kansas City's impressive franchise rebirth.
"Over the last four-plus years Kei's progression as a player has been tremendous," Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes said in a statement. "We appreciate his service to the team and to the club and we wish nothing but the best for him and his next challenge as a player."
Although terms of the deal were not disclosed, Sporting Kansas City called the transfer fee "substantial" in their press release Monday evening and confirmed they will receive two-thirds of the fee to use as allocation money, per MLS rules.
Kamara tweeted confirmation of his Deadline Day transfer with these words: “Very happy and thankful for this new chapter of my career with Middlesbrough FC (@Boro). Can't wait to meet the boys/fans and get started.”
The move confirmed what English outlets had been saying all day – although Sporting CEO Robb Heineman tweeted late Monday morning that some sort of move was under way, without naming Kamara:
“This is not easy, but sometimes in sports you have to make tough, unpopular decisions," Heineman tweeted. "This is one of those days. #skcnation”
The 29-year-old Kamara joined the then-Wizards in 2009, on a trade from Houston, and ends the Kansas City portion of his career with 38 MLS goals in 113 appearances.
Kamara led Sporting in scoring in each of the past three league seasons and was second on the club with seven MLS goals this year, despite a loan to Premiership side Norwich City that kept him in England until early May.
The Canaries had an option to purchase his contract outright when that loan expired, but declined that option while their top-flight status for this season was still in doubt.
Kamara's last appearance in Kansas City came as a second-half substitute in Saturday's 2-1 home victory over Colorado, after missing two matches with a sprained right ankle.
Middlesbrough FC have played in the Football League Championship, the second tier of English soccer, since the 2009-10 season. The club finished 16th in the 24-team league last season and currently holds the 15th position through five games (1-1-3) this year.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.