Though already stacked with scoring options, the New England Revolution seemed desperate for that one big finisher up top amid their halting start to the 2016 season.
Moving swiftly in the final hours before the close of the primary transfer window on Wednesday, they got just that in Kei Kamara, a 22-goal scorer with Columbus Crew SC last season.
“I think it gives us a true No. 9,” Revs coach Jay Heaps said on Thursday. “We have pieces that work off of that really well. It also gives us a lot of depth and it gives us a lot of attacking options to vary different things in the final third. I think you’ll see a couple of different starting points and different players in different positions to strengthen what we have.”
What New England now have is a dynamic talent and personality who helped push Columbus into the 2015 MLS Cup.
In many ways this acquisition helps to fill the starpower void left by the trade of Jermaine Jones to Colorado earlier this spring. Meanwhile, Kamara's departure from his old club – sparked by last Saturday's penalty-kick spat with teammate Federico Higuain – was reminiscent of how the Revs' former Designated Player ended things in New England: tumultuous.
“I don’t want to speculate, because I don’t know the whole story,” said Heaps of Kamara's situation in Columbus. “There’s always a big story. Just speaking from experience and having situations that arise within the locker room, no one wants to be dissected in the public eye. Even with things we’ve had to deal within the players and different things, handling it in house is always the best.
“With that said, I think there’s always more than one side to each story. Until I know the full story, I don’t really want to comment on that story. I’ll comment on our side.”
After a 1-3-7 start to their campaign, the Revolution were hoping to shake things up, and did so with this move.
While Kamara’s past history may be played out within the court of public opinion, those inside the New England locker room are excited to have a compelling weapon who could help turn the tide this season.
“Kei is a great player,” said Teal Bunbury, who played with Kamara at Sporting Kansas City for three seasons. “He’ll work … this is a great addition to our team.”
Said playmaker Lee Nguyen: “I think it’s a big pickup. He’s proven to score a lot of goals in this league. We could definitely use his caliber and his goals.”
Kamara accounted for five of Crew SC's 11 goals on the season before the trade. New England have scored 13 goals to date this year.
“You’re always looking to make your team better,” said Heaps. “Whether you add from the international market or from within the league, you’re always trying to add a piece and I feel like we were able to add a really good piece.”