The winter MLS exodus is in full swing and Kei Kamara has joined the crop of MLS players heading to Europe this off-season.
Sporting Kansas City has loaned Kamara to Norwich City, with the deal including a purchase option that could see Kamara leave MLS for good. If Norwich City passes on buying Kamara outright, Kamara could return to Sporting KC as early as May 6th. The deal is contingent on Kamara securing a work permit.
“It is a very bittersweet day as I am excited to achieve one of my goals, which was to play in the EPL,” Kamara said in a statement released by Sporting KC. “Being such a positive person, I trust in this decision and am thankful for the opportunity to play at Norwich City through the end of their season. I am grateful for the coaching staff at Sporting KC and especially Peter (Vermes) for believing in me and helping me through this process.”
The loan deal secures Sporting KC some valuable allocation money the team can use to place Kamara, who enjoyed a career year in 2012 with 11 goals and eight assists.
“Our club continues to get a lot of attention throughout Europe,” Sporting Kansas City head coach Peter Vermes said. “As we do with all of our decisions, we always think about the long-term impact on our organization, as well as the short-term. Ultimately, this opportunity allows us to re-invest back into the club and solidify our core group of players.
“We understand that players are going to be sought after and that players aspire to fulfill personal and professional ambitions. We want to continue to help them achieve those goals and this helps us accomplish that objective, along with extending his contract. We have a very strong roster and this enables another player to step up.”
Kamara joins Roger Espinoza as Sporting KC players making the move to the English Premier League this winter. Espinoza joined Wigan Athletic on a free transfer and recently enjoyed a Man of the Match performance for the Latics in his Premier League debut.
Kamara joins a Norwich City side currently in 13th place in the EPL, six points clear of the relegation zone.
What do you think of this move? See Kamara doing well in the Premier League? Think Sporting KC can still win the Eastern Conference without him?
Share your thoughts below.
I know he didn’t see a ton of time last year because of the mid season transfer but I think Uri Rosell will impress and step up into the role Julio Cesar had. Kid comes from the Barca system, is still young with a ton of upside. CEO Robb has repeatedly mentioned that he sees him as a future star with this team…and I think he steps up big time this year
Best of luck to Rafiki.
I like watching Kei. He always seems to play with Joy, Passion and wild abandon. Good for him.
Agree w/ Jason and Jim 100%: SKC management seems to have realized that they don’t want their best players leaving on free transfers after all (though I quibble somewhat with the depiction of Roger’s situation–I think SKC were right to keep him because they had no leverage during the summer window either, because Roger could simply sign a pre-contract offer then and transfer on a Bosman anyways).
That being said, this loan puts immediate pressure on SKC’s new DP, Claudio Bieler, because CJ Sapong is almost certainly SKC’s new starting right winger, and SKC’s backup strikers (Soony Saad and Dom Dwyer) are still fairly unknown quantities at this point.
Best of luck to Kei as he tests the EPL waters. He deserves every bit of his fan favorite status and then some.
I see RW being Graham Zusi’s spot, as he played there plenty last year, and is Klinsmann’s first choice there with the nats.
As for left wing I think we see Bobby Convey or Jacob Peterson assume the slot, which allows Sapong and Bieler to cycle in at striker, once Bunbury returns, then maybe we see Sapong move out to the wing more often.
Agreed about Saad and Dwyer, I think one or both will spend significant time with Orlando City this year.
Just because Zusi *can* play RW doesn’t mean he *should.* Putting him at RW makes SKC very thin at midfield–keep in mind, they’re replacing not only Kei, but Roger Espinoza as well. Slotting Zusi in at RW would really hurt SKC’s depth in midfield, where the only other proven players would be Benny Feilhaber and Paulo Nagamura.
Since Jacob Peterson is also out injured, LW is likely Bobby Convey’s job to lose, and I imagine the job of spelling Claudio Bieler at striker is going to fall to whichever of Saad/Dwyer doesn’t get shipped out to Orlando.
Zusi is a lot better on the wing, stats and eye test more than proved that last year. Id argue that once Peterson Joseph got his ears wet that both he and Jacob Peterson were better in Vermes 4-3-3 midfield than Zusi. The vast majority of Zusi pts came from playing on the wing. Rosell has shown quite well in both his appearances as well. Bobby Convey also lead Reading to top flight playing midfield.
To be honest, I am perfect comfortable with a midfield of Feilhaber, Nagamura and Oriol Rosell. Let Peterson Joseph and Michael Thomas battle for time, and lets see if Josh Gardner and Lawrence Olum can find a minute or two in there.
Lots of options for SKC.
I wonder if they can steal Franck Songo’o from his Houston trial?
I’m not really sure where to begin. The majority of Zusi’s assists came in games he started at attacking midfield rather than winger, and Peterson Joseph remains a long-term project…his boneheaded red card against Houston is evidence enough of that. I have lots of faith in Uri Rosell’s potential, but he remains an unknown quantity–he had one start in MLS play after arriving last summer, and banking on him immediately out of the gate is a gamble. And Bobby Convey’s time at Reading is loooooong gone. He turns 30 this year and is what he is at this point, which is a winger.
Isn’t Teal still there?
Yes, but he tore his ACL in, I think, September of last season, and isn’t expected to be fully match-fit until May, April at the very earliest.
recovering from surgery as is Jacob Peterson, kinda thin in the front 3 at the present moment
Anyone have a running tally of MLS players who’ve flown the coop this off-season? Seems like a record year for major player departures.
Spot on Jason. If SKC says no now, then he can go at the end of this contract year. This compensates the club, meets any obligation they feel to the player, and locks him into a long term deal if Europe doesn’t work out. I would say they learned from the Espinoza experience. We’ll miss him, but I wish him the best.
To say nothing of the free transfer Espinoza left on.
I applaud MLS for developing talent but they need to be sharks, the same way they are with American talent, and recoup some transfer funds for said development.
If he does transfer there will be a transfer fee. Not horrible for SKC. If he returns, they get a guy with better experience and have him for the playoff push and playoffs.
The loan ensures that they don’t repeat the mistake they made with Espinoza. They get some money now, as stated in the article. And the deal has an option to buy for Norwich, as stated in SKC’s letter to fans. It’s a no lose for SKC, money now + (potential) money in the future OR money now + get Kamara back and lock him up to a longer deal.
You bring up some legitimate points. However, I stand by MLS not being sharks with non-American talent.
Not a fan of “loan to buy” moves for any club in any league, least of which this off-season for Kamara and Montero.
Blah – no edit button –
One difference between Kamara and Espinoza? Espinoza was in the final year of his deal.
To my knowledge, that isn’t the case for Kamara and SKC could negotiate from a point of strength, rather than desperation.
Kamara would have been out of contract at the end of this season. The loan deal extended his contract with MLS.
Disagree, think this was some clever thinking by SKC.
It’s clear they didn’t want to lose Kamara, but they also didn’t want to stand in his way of testing himself in a bigger league.
This way, the club gets some cash for the loan, and more cash if it becomes a permanent deal. The player is happy because he gets to play in a Big 5 league (even if it’s just for a few months). If it doesn’t work out, Kamara returns to SKC and they keep going on their merry way. And in the future, they become a little more appealing for a player who might be concerned that MLS won’t let him go when an opportunity comes up (see Twellman, Taylor)
If you’ll read the letter Robb Heinemen wrote, it does state that Kamara was in the final year. Essentially, they traded Kamara the chance to go over there for 3 months for extending his deal by a year or two AND receiving allocation money from the loan fee. If he isn’t signed permanently, then he comes back in May, in shape, with 2/3 of the MLS season to go and all of CCL play to go and the allocation money for SKC to spend. Yes, there’s a chance he’s sold permanently, but this is a very shrewd deal done by SKC brass. I really don’t see how anyone could think otherwise, unless they think we should have sold Kei straight up for 10mm pounds.