Apparently the cause for Columbus’ woes was their all-everything goalscorer. Kei Kamara being shipped to New England this past week for the MLS equivalent of “a vault and the Brinks truck.” The tall dude is on his fifth MLS team now and, if rumors are to be believed, also one of the most unpleasant teammates in American soccer.
On one hand it’s hard to believe it because Kamara’s public face is as a goofball who just happens to be one of the aerial geniuses of the league. On the other hand, five teams in 11 years (plus a stint in England). He may have been the runner-up to the golden boot and MVP last year, but here’s hoping Kamara doesn’t own a ton of furniture.
It’s an especially weird move because of the way both teams are set up. Columbus has nobody who can really dominate the air like he could because, well, nobody in the league can either. His replacements, Ola Kamara (no relation!) and Conor Casey are both spark plug-types. Ola is lightning quick and Conor is a bald brick wall that is still learning the ways of the pitch. Columbus coach Gregg Berhalter’s 2015 strategy of “get good angles and lob balls in” won’t work, and he knows this. What does he think will work instead? We’re about to find out.
As for New England, they already have a young target-type in Juan Agudelo. He was, not so long ago, the future of American goal scoring. He’s turned into more of a speedy CJ Sapong sort of dude, but that’s not nothing at age 23 and he still has a whole career in front of himself. Maybe Agudelo will learn from a master for several months. Maybe Kei Kamara will eat a bunch of donut holes, never offer them around, and leave the bag in Agudelo’s locker. Either way, it’s hard to see where the minutes will come for Agudelo, Charlie Davies and Teal Bunbury. And Kamara won’t help the league’s leakiest defense up in New England.
Both Columbus and New England are scrapping for a low-seed playoff spot in the already-scrappy East. From a “hopes for postseason” perspective, this is a short-term coup for the Revs, but they just sent a whole lot of money Columbus’ way. If Columbus can convince some European or Argentine star to move to the land of Wendy’s square hamburgers (and convince MLS commish Garber that this is a wise thing for the league) then they can certainly afford it. Anyone know if Nick Bendtner is an Urban Meyer fan?
If you believe it, this to-be-determined hero of the Midwest will have to compete with none other than Zlatan himself for headlines. The Swedish giant is rumored to be interested in signing with LA Galaxy because why the hell not? LA doesn’t precisely need a 6’5” barrel of goals at the front of their attack, but it’s also not like Gyasi Zardes is going to push Ibrahimovic for playing time if Ibra does come to America. It’s a positively bizarre situation that is best dealt with by hand-waving until we have to deal with it. This is especially wise if you’re, say, an Earthquakes fan wondering what Marvell Wynne is supposed to do against the guy who can do this.
Hopefully any deals will have the decency to wait until after this weekend’s slate to conclude. With both New England and C-bus fighting (desperately in the Crew’s case) for a playoff berth, the two sides have opportunities to improve their chances this weekend. Surprising western leader, Colorado is both away from home and coming off of a Wednesday night 1-0 win over K.C., so if new-look Columbus is aiming to make a statement, they have a chance on Saturday in front of The Massive. New England’s also taking on a short-rest side (Chicago in their case) that they ought to dispatch handily.
On Sunday, NYCFC takes the national stage to try and put another dent in Portland (Ch. 85). City’s creative lineups look a lot less visionary and a lot more desperate as they keep on dropping points. The side is still looking for a long-term plan, but then again so is Portland. It could be a high-scoring if chaotic affair.
This is one of the last full weekends before international camps start chipping away at rosters for the summer. The weirdest thing about the Kamara-to-Revs trade is how much it shifts the balance in a very tight MLS right now. One shoe has dropped with the high-scoring malcontent moving out. The other shoe? Well, we’re still waiting.
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Asher Kohn is a regular contributor to SiriusXM and is a die-hard San Jose Earthquakes fan. Discuss the league and soccer with him on Twitter: @Ajkhn
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