Columbus Crew SC sign Kei Kamara to Designated Player deal through 2018

Kei Kamara’s contract dispute with Columbus Crew SC has come to a happy end.

Crew SC announced on Wednesday that they have signed Kamara to a new contract that will make him a Designated Player through the 2018 season. The Columbus Dispatch first reported the news earlier on Wednesday.

Kamara, 31, finished tied for the league lead with 22 regular-season goals and helped lead Columbus to MLS Cup last year, his first since returning to the league after a brief stint in England.

The Washington Post’s Steven Goff reported in January that Kamara and Crew SC were in a contract dispute, with the striker reportedly wanting a new contract from the club following his standout 2015 campaign. He is the second Designated Player on the Crew SC roster, joining Argentine midfielder Federico Higuain

“We are proud to be able to offer Kei a contract extension,” Crew SC sporting director and head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a statement released by the club. “To me, he is a true success story in this League: a player who has worked his way up the ranks and now has earned a Designated Player contract following one of the most prolific goal-scoring seasons in MLS history last year. It also demonstrates tremendous support from [Crew SC owner Anthony] Precourt in signing two Designated Players and showing his ambition for where he wants this club to go. This is great news for Columbus and I am excited to see what Kei can do this year.”

Selected by Columbus with the ninth overall pick of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, Kamara spent the first eight seasons of his career in MLS, playing with the Crew, San Jose, Houston and Kansas City before moving to English Championship side Middlesbrough in September 2013. He spent an up-and-down year in England before signing a contract with Crew SC in October 2014 that made him eligible to play for the club in the 2015 season.

The 2015 MLS Humanitarian of the Year and the runner-up in the league MVP voting, the former Sierra Leone international has 74 goals in 225 career MLS regular season appearances. He has an additional four goals – all of which came last year – in 10 career playoff matches. 

Columbus will open the 2016 MLS season on Sunday in an MLS Cup rematch at the Portland Timbers (4:30 pm ET, ESPN and ESPN Deportes in the US, MLS LIVE in Canada).