Top Stories

Kamara returns to MLS, signs with Crew

KeiKamaraSportingKC1-ChicagoFire2013MLS (USATODAYSports)

Photo by Mike Dinovo/USA TODAY Sports


One of Major League Soccer’s most well-liked players is back in the league after a tumultuous stay in England.

Kei Kamara, most recently a free agent after mutually terminating his contract with Middlesborough on Aug. 28, has signed with MLS and been allocated to the Columbus Crew, which held the top spot in the allocation ranking. According to a report in the Columbus Dispatch, Kamara will begin training with the Crew next week and can begin playing for the team in January.

Although the deal hasn’t been officially announced by the Crew, Kamara posted a picture of himself on his official Twitter account next to a sign advertising the Crew’s new logo. The club is scheduled to unveil the logo Wednesday night.

Kamara last played in MLS for Sporting Kansas City, where he became one of the most-feared goal scorers in the league, scoring 37 times in nearly four years with the club. Kamara spent winter and spring of 2013 on loan at then-English Premier League side Norwich City, remaining with the club until the final weeks of the season, when his loan ended.

The Sierra Leone international then made a permanent move in fall 2013 to Middlesborough, but he never truly settled in the team, making 16 starts in 25 appearances and scoring only four goals. He didn’t make a single appearance for Middlesborough before his contract was mutually terminated.

The signing makes it a full circle for Kamara, after the Crew selected him with the ninth overall selection in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. The 30-year-old forward played 36 times for the Crew in 2006 and 2007, mostly off the bench, and scored five goals. He was traded prior to the 2008 season to the San Jose Earthquakes, and then was shipped out to the Houston Dynamo midway through the season.

In September  2009, Kamara was traded to Sporting KC in exchange for Abe Thompson and allocation funds.

By signing Kamara, the Crew solve one of their biggest problems all year, finding a strong, experienced player to man the lone striker role. At the same time, Kamara also has the speed and technical ability to take players one-on-one on the wings, which he did to deadly effect with Sporting KC.


What do you think of this signing? Glad to see Kamara back in MLS? Think he can succeed with the Crew? Where do you expect him to play in the Crew’s system?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I was at the game in 2012 in Crew Stadium when Kei Kamara made a vicious tackle on Bernardo Anor and took out his knee. Anor missed 13 months. Kamara then compounded the offense by leaning over Anor, writhing on the ground in agony, and barked at him to get up and quit faking. Should have been a red card, should have been league disciplinary action. This is the proof that MLS considers him a star. MLS stars get the same pampered treatment as all other major sports. I wonder if Kamara and Anor will room together on the road?

  2. Why is he allocated? I thought that was for US International team players. And did someone really say he is a better pick up than Mix?

    • I am not the one who said it, but were I an MLS coach I might take Kamara over Diskerud. We know Kamara can be a good MLS player and a popular one at that. We have no idea about Diskerud. People love him because he hasn’t had enough opportunities for fans to see the flaws clearly. He’s currently playing in a league that is probably a level below MLS, and given that he’s close enough for bigger leagues to look at, it’s telling how he’s not moved. I would sign him, but in MLS he’s at best Feilhaber and possibly much worse. Kamara is a sure thing contributor, even on a good team.

  3. It’s TEGWAR!!

    Ever see the great baseball movie, Bang the Drum Slowly — where Michael Moriarty teaches Robert De Niro the card game known as TEGWAR? Stands for The Exciting Game Without Any Rules, and it’s a way to fleece suckers who are thrilled to sit down and play cards with ballplayers.

    I think it’s probably a better pick-up for the Crew than Diskerud would have been, but….. Using this year’s allocation slot to sign a guy, even though rosters are frozen until after the season and despite that he cannot make a move out of England until January… feels to me as if the rules are getting bent again to make this happen.

    As if this wasn’t silly enough — the Crew are saying they don’t need to protect him in the expansion draft, since he’s not on their roster for 2014. So, tell me again how they’re able to use their 2014 allocation slot to sign him…?

    • The Crew used their 2014 allocation slot because they signed him in 2014. He can’t play in 2014 b/c the roster freeze was 3 weeks ago. The upcoming expansion draft is based on the 2014 roster. Yeah, it’s complex, but it’s not outside the current MLS rules.

  4. I was always happy for him when he was doing well in MLS and when he went over to Europe but I never thought he was the type of player who could succeed there. Did he have a good stint at Norwich? Sure, but that’s not success. Since I’m sure I will get dissenters, I will define what I consider to be success. Success is defined by good play across multiple seasons; say, three or more seasons. It’s not my intention to degrade his skills. I just never thought he was going to excel there.

    Happy to see him back though. He was definitely exciting to watch while he was here.

  5. I have always been a fan of his, even back when the Quakes were badly misusing him. He’s entertaining and his life story makes you really, really root for the guy.

  6. Not bad but why didnt he go to another team in Europe or even Mexico since LigamX likes to get MLS players.
    Anyway, doesnt crew get a new logo tomorrow and there has been zero leaks of it, which is kind of strange since everything is out before time in these modern days. By the way crew should remodel their stadium like soldier field in chicago or just make a new one.

      • We have inculcated he consciousness of our own American sports owners. Doesn’t matter if the current place is within its useful life, not used to capacity, and probably either paid off or close to it, gotta be bigger, better, etc.

        Further irony being this, warts and all, used to be the SSS poster boy and now that others have more recent toys, it’s deemed passe.

      • Good post. Nothing wrong with Crew stadium.

        Biggest thing Crew could afford to spend money on is marketing. They’ve got a decent product, they just need to really focus on building up grassroot support and getting themselves into the youth clubs by hook or by crook – heck, if they have to GIVE tickets away, give them away…but FILL THE STADIUM AND HAVE A PACKED HOUSE FOR EVERY GAME.

        If I’m an owner, I will not have empty seats. I refuse. Find a way to have 18,000+ on hand, every game, and create a scene.

        Build that, and everything else takes care of itself.

  7. He was a joy to watch in SKC, and he’s gonna be amazing to watch in Columbus. Crew under Berhalter are gonna be beasts next year.

    …LOL but really, how pissed are Kansas City fans right now?

  8. Doesn’t do anything to help the CREW this season. Remains a big miss for the franchise that they didn’t make any acquisitions this season that could address their woeful production problems at the forward position.

  9. He should do well for the Crew and its a good signing for MLS. Kei won over the fans at Norwich but was really out of his depth. This doesn’t say much for MLS when a star in this league can’t make the team at a English Championship Club. Either way he’s a competitor and fun to watch, hope he does well again.

    • I never saw him as a star in MLS. Was very surprised that Norwich was interested in him. I can probably list 20 MLS forwards I would take before Kamara.

      • Hate to throw shade but…let’s all admit what we’ve been in denial for years about:

        English Championship > MLS

        Wether it be Kei, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Luke Rodgers, Robbie Findley etc…there are many more examples.

      • Hate to break it to you, but he did well at Norwich and Middleborough and his numbers were for the most part consistent with his performance most years in MLS (See his performance with the Quakes and Houston in particular.)

        As for Bradley Wright-Phillips, he had a 22 goal year for Charlton just a couple years ago so his performance is not a complete aberration. (Maybe if he had Henry feeding him balls his whole career…?) Luke Rodgers had double digit goal years in lower divisions prior to coming to MLS – you could not argue that his time with Red Bulls was his personal best. Even Robbie Findley had one good year (15 goals) but the rest of his career, in MLS or out, is pretty much consistent.

        So I don’t think your comparison makes the case you claim. (The Championship League may be better, but I don’t think this is evidence. Frankly I think the best MLS sides would fit comfortably at the top half of the table there.) We’ve seen it a thousand times – guys who either have a single year aberration, or guys who finally find a spot where they are used correctly, surrounded by better players or finally figure out what they are supposed to do. (I think Bradley Wright Phillips is a case of all three, by the way. He’s pretty clear about how Henry has taught him how to make runs off the defenders shoulder.) It’s not as clear cut as you might think.

      • Luke Rodgers, Kenny Cooper, BWP, all have had their best seasons playing alongside Henry. Coincidence? Obviously not. BWP gets so many chances, he actually should have a lot more goals. He missed several great chances on Saturday for instance.

        Luke Rodgers is currently playing in the Conference (fifth division) where he has zero goals this season by the way. Henry is so good he was able to make this hack look like a decent player. Now that’s amazing.

        Cooper had some other good seasons but his 18 goals in 2012 are further proof how good Henry is.

      • I think I could manage six or eight goals with Henry passing to me. (I just need to stand there and let him hit me, then hope for the ricochet.) I agree that BWP could and should have even more, but I do think he is learning to play at a higher level. My hunch is he would continue to be good even without him. Just not record setting good.

      • Didn’t he play in League One last year? That is probably MLS’ level. No MLS squad has the depth required to make it through the Championship 46 game schedule. In a one off game they could hold their own in the Championship but not over the whole season.

      • Except Kei put on a decent performance in the EPL, so how do you calculate that faux math equation out?

        How about he’s simply getting old? Or was a poor fit at Boro?

        MLB lets (or at least used to let) people acquired after the trade deadline be used in regular season games, just not the postseason. I’d prefer that rule because it would improve the product for the fans, provide an option to players in a bad fall situation who can get released, and yet not really impact who wins MLS Cup.

      • MLS defies easy comparisons like that. Our top guys can play with anybody, witness the way they humiliated – and legitimately outplayed – Bayern in the MLS All-Star game. Contrariwise, just a couple days before, LA Galaxy got themselves blown out 7-0 by Manchester United…mostly because the Galaxy were tired, on a short week, and their lack of depth showed up and beat them over the head.

        Players 1-11, I think the top MLS teams are probably better than the Championship. Sorry, you don’t see Championship-level clubs with guys like, say, Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, and even Gyasi Zardes, or if you look at Seattle, Dempsey, Martins, and Osvaldo Alonso are better than Championship level.

        Problem is, even while the top MLS teams are composed of 3-4 guys who would be stars or solid players in any league, including the EPL, and then have another half-dozen guys who are probably Championship level…the remainder of their rosters are composed of 30K league-minimum guys who are probably League One or even League Two level.

        The salary cap, DP rules, Gen Adidas contracts, draft, and other contrivances particular to MLS make the league kind of difficult to judge, since its quality can vary so wildly from game to game.

      • This is reasonable. I’d say that there is a small handful of teams, like the Galaxy and Seattle, who have more depth and I think could compete through a Championship season. I hope the new TV contract and CBA create the chance for teams to improve their depth, further closing the gap.

      • Agreed with everything you said minus that Zardes is above being a championship player. Dont think he would feature much if at all for any EPL side

      • Not yet. Give him another year or so alongside Keane and you’ll have a different player.

        Athletically, he’s better than what you see in the Championship, up there with the truly elite EPL strikers. He’s at the very least dead-even with Danny Welbeck, for instance. The thing is, Welbeck came up through the Manchester United system, got more competition, earlier – some of it via some loan moves to lower-level EPL sides – whereas Zardes actually spent a year in a small California college because the Galaxy brass were looking for a way to get him games and develop him and there really wasn’t any good options at that point…so now Zardes, at 22, is about where Welbeck probably was at 19.

        Given his work ethic, the coaching he’s getting, having veteran guys like Keane around, and the constant quality minutes he’s getting now, Zardes’ progression is likely to be swift…he just didn’t have the development structure around him that a European player would have, which IMHO is a problem endemic to American players. Even Klinsmann admits that the USA has as much U16 talent as anybody in the world…the problem, as he says, is what’s happening with these players afterward.

        I live in Greenville, SC, and coached for several years at Furman United…I actually know Furman head coach Doug Allison quite well. Allison had guys in his program like Clint Dempsey, Walker Zimmerman, Ricardo Clark, and Shea Salinas…and I saw all these guys up-close in college…also saw Stu Holden and Gooch when they were at Clemson, and ALSO know current RSL player Sebastian Velazquez, actually watched him win the nationals with Discoveries Soccer Club a few years back. And you see the long and sort of winding paths all these guys had to take to develop…there just wasn’t a coherent development structure in place for any of these guys, but put them in a European-style development academy and they would have progressed faster…they succeeded despite the limitations of the American system, not because of it. (Heck, Doug Allison at Furman is basically a failed academy player from Bath, England, who realized he wasn’t going to make it professionally in England, decided to knock goals in for fun at South Carolina in the ’80’s, graduated, and turned to coaching…and ended up forming a perennial Top-25 power at tiny Furman mostly because he got in at the ground floor of American college soccer.)

        But the game is still the game. I’ve watched Doug coach, many times, and he’s a great coach…but he’s not teaching some black art. I run exactly the same drills with U12 and U13 club kids he does at Furman.

        And talent is talent. Give a talent like Zardes sufficient opportunities to develop his craft, he’ll be as good as anybody. Is he a little behind, RIGHT NOW? Yup. Can he and will he catch up? I think so. He’s certainly in the right spot, and has the right mentality, to do it. The guy gets better every week.

      • Great, great post. If I could give you rep I would.

        As for the “until U16” point – that’s always been the case. that has been changing, slowly but surely, for awhile now, at least over the last five or six years, partly driven by MLS.

      • good posts, thanks quozzel

        US talent has always matured later, for reasons you state and others I would add, particularly the culture of soccer here in the states or lack of it, and the fact that until recently we didn’t get to watch the abundance of games that are now on TV; nothing like learning by watching the best play while you’re growing up and developing your passion for the game, which we couldn’t do here until recently.
        Also the parental leadership part is just now entering our generational equations which other countries have been passing on forever

        anyway, all of these things are changing and have been changing, and we’re seeing results trickle in imo

    • Nigel Reo-Coker scored on average 5-6 goals per year in English football, primarily at BPL level.

      Nigel Reo-Coker moved to MLS at age 29.

      Nigel Reo-Coker has scored once in 48 appearance in the last two years in MLS.

      Therefore MLS must be…FIVE TIMES as hard as the BPL.



Leave a Comment