The Kei Kamara era in Columbus has reached an abrupt end as Crew SC traded the forward to the New England Revolution.
ESPN analyst Taylor Twellman was the first to report the news, and the teams announced it on Thursday morning. The deal was finalized just minutes before the closing of the MLS primary transfer after midnight.
Crew SC will receive a record amount of allocation money in the trade, a source told ESPN FC, as well as New England's highest first round SuperDraft pick in 2017, second round pick in 2018 and an international roster spot for the 2016 season.
- NewEnglandRevolution (@NERevolution) May 12, 2016
A source said the amount of targeted and general allocation money involved is in excess of $300,000, more than what the Chicago Fire received last year when they executed a sign-and-trade that sent Didier Drogba to the Montreal Impact.
The deal concludes a bizarre six-day stretch, one that began on Saturday with Columbus' 4-4 draw against the Montreal Impact. That match witnessed a very public spat between Kamara and teammate Federico Higuain over who would take a penalty.
Kamara had scored twice and wanted to complete his hat trick, but Higuain prevailed and converted the spot kick to put Crew SC up 4-1. Kamara ripped into Higuain after the match.
"We scored a lot of goals, but there was no team play," Kamara told local TV after the game. "And that completely explains the way me and Federico behaved on the penalty kick."
He added: "A team who stays together will win games. A team that doesn't, not gonna win games. And that's horrible. We are home, we go up that much and to give that many, it's horrible."
Crew SC later suspended Kamara for this weekend's game against Colorado, but the forward refused to apologize and appeared to double down on his comments on Tuesday.
"[Coach Gregg Berhalter] told me that this morning, and obviously I didn't agree to it all," Kamara said. "I won't agree to it. But he's the boss, and if he says, 'We don't need you for the weekend. You're going to have to sit out for the weekend,' there's nothing I can do about that."
"I said what is on my mind and in my head." Berhalter said, "The action of Kei, speaking out against a teammate, is unacceptable. We have zero tolerance for that. Therefore, he won't be playing in the game Saturday -- coach's decision.
"And then we try to move forward in the right way. We're a team that keeps things together. We keep things between ourselves, and that's why that decision was made."
Now it appears that the ultimate decision was to ship Kamara out of Columbus. On the surface, the deal is surprising in that Crew SC have traded the forward to a conference rival. But Kamara has developed a reputation around the league for being difficult to manage and for eventually wearing out his welcome at various clubs.
Evidently, that was the case in Columbus. Out of his five separate stints with MLS teams, only once did Kamara last more than two seasons. That was when he was with Sporting Kansas City from 2009-13.
After tying for the league lead in goals with 22 last season, Kamara held out for a salary increase during preseason. Even though the player had signed a new designated player deal that reportedly paid him in excess of $1 million per year, Berhalter clearly decided it was better to cut his losses.
One surprise about the deal is that Columbus didn't receive any players in return, but the move does give Berhalter some flexibility to add a player when the transfer window reopens on July 4.
As for New England, the Revolution now have something of a logjam at forward, with Kamara joining the likes of Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, and Charlie Davies. But finishing has been an issue for the Revs, as Jay Heaps' side is third in the league in chances created at 10.82 per game, but just 15th in the league in goals scored with 1.18 goals per game.
Now New England has one of the most prolific strikers in the league at its disposal.
"We have been looking to strengthen our team and we feel that this addition accomplishes just that," said Revolution general manager Michael Burns in a statement. "Kei is a player who has had success and is a proven goal scorer in MLS. We're pleased we were able to get this deal done and look forward to Kei's arrival and integration into the team."