2015 MLS MVP finalist Kei Kamara is in a contract dispute with Columbus Crew SC, according to The Washington Post’s Steve Goff, but it doesn't appear to be hindering his arrival at the team's preseason training camp.
Goff reported late on Monday night that Kamara has yet to join the team for preseason in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Columbus began their stay on Florida on Saturday.
However, head coach Gregg Berhalter told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday that Kamara was expected to arrive in camp after a team-excused absence, echoing a statement from the team cited in the report:
Berhalter on Kamara: "The team gave Kei a couple days off to be with his family, that's the situation." Scheduled to arrive tonight #CrewSC— Andrew King (@AndrewKingMLS) January 26, 2016
When asked for clarification as to whether he had any concerns about Kamara's contract situation, Berhalter replied, "That's a difficult question, because the first statement that we made is that he's not in camp because we gave him time off. So I don't know how that question is even relevant."
Kamara finished tied for the league lead with Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco with 22 regular season goals last season. The 2015 MLS Humanitarian of the Year for his work building schools in his native Sierra Leone, Kamara also led the league with four postseason goals, helping Crew SC to their runner-up finish at MLS Cup.
Columbus, who signed winger Ethan Finlay to a contract extension earlier this month, will train in Florida until February 5. Crew SC will then return to Columbus for indoor training before heading to Arizona for the Desert Diamond Cup. The club will open the 2016 MLS regular season with an MLS Cup rematch at Portland on March 6.