COLUMBUS – The Columbus Crew today announced that the club has signed forward Kei Kamara (pronounced: Kye Kuh-MAR-uh) via the Major League Soccer allocation ranking. Per club and MLS policy, additional details of the deal were not disclosed. Most recently with English Football League Championship side Middlesbrough, Kamara is an MLS stalwart, having made just under 200 regular-season appearances (193), recording 52 goals and 23 assists in that span. Kamara has agreed to terms with the Crew and will be formally added to the club’s roster on January 1, 2015, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
The newest member of the Black & Gold is set to join the full Crew roster and technical staff alongside Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber and team Investor-Operator and Chairman Anthony Precourt to unveil the Crew’s new visual and brand identity at an exclusive reveal event tomorrow, Wednesday, October 8 at the LC Pavilion beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. Kamara will be available for media access at the event via a member of Crew Communications.
"Kei is a dynamic attacking player with a history of scoring goals in this League and we feel that he will fit perfectly into our system,” said Crew Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. “With his on-field performance, leadership, big personality and history of community involvement, Kei embodies the values of the club’s new brand as we move forward.”
At 6-foot-3, Kamara adds offensive firepower to one of the League’s top crossing teams in 2014. In his eight years in MLS, he already became one of the top 35 goal scorers in League history. His scoring consistency became a staple during his time in the U.S., as his goals per 90 minutes played average ranks 20th all-time among the more than 120 players in League history that have played 13,000 or more regular-season minutes. Of Kamara’s 52 MLS goals and 23 assists, 15 of his strikes were game-winners and nearly half of his helpers (10) directly led his club to victories.
Kamara is no stranger to Columbus, as he was drafted by the Crew with the ninth overall pick in the First Round of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft. In his first campaign in Central Ohio, Kamara appeared in 19 matches – including nine starts – scoring his first professional goal in his first-ever MLS game on April 1, 2006 at Kansas City.
After two seasons with the Crew, Kamara joined the San Jose Earthquakes in 2008 and also spent time with the Houston Dynamo. While in Texas, he appeared in seven matches during the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League, scoring two goals in a Group Stage match against Universidad Nacional on September 30, 2008. In 2009, he joined Sporting Kansas City, where he was a crucial component in the club’s recent wave of success.
From 2010-2012, Kamara became a regular starter and immediately doubled previous career highs with Sporting. During a three-year span in which he became a household MLS name, he averaged 10 tallies and six assists per season, including career highs in goals (11) and assists (8) in 2012. Kamara hoisted the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup that year after scoring from the spot in the 83rd minute of the Final against Seattle Sounders FC, while also converting a penalty in the shootout necessary to decide the champion. Later in 2012, he again helped Sporting to its second consecutive year as the top seed in the Eastern Conference heading into the MLS Cup Playoffs, where he made two additional 2012 postseason appearances.
Prior to the 2013 MLS season, Kamara was loaned to Barclays Premier League side Norwich City. He made 11 appearances for the Canaries, scoring his first Premier League goal in his second-ever Premiership match on February 23, 2013 versus Everton. He returned to Sporting KC following the expiration of his loan and made his 2013 MLS debut on May 8, taking MLS by storm via seven goals and two assists in just 15 appearances. On September 2, 2013, he was transferred to Middlesbrough in a return to England.
Kamara has made 23 appearances for the Sierra Leone National Team, scoring four goals and captaining his side in their recent African Cup of Nations qualifiers. His debut for Sierra Leone came during 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification on June 14, 2008 versus South Africa. He scored his first goals for his country with a brace during 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying against Sao Tome and Principe on June 16, 2012. Kamara appeared in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification fixtures, scoring another goal for Sierra Leone on June 8, 2013 against Tunisia. His fourth Sierra Leone goal came on September 6, 2014 against the Ivory Coast in qualification for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
TRANSACTION: The Columbus Crew has signed forward Kei Kamara via the Major League Soccer allocation ranking. Kamara has agreed to terms with the Crew and will be formally added to the club’s roster on January 1, 2015, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
Name: Kei Kamara
Pronunciation: Kye Kuh-MAR-uh
Born: September 1, 1984 in Kenema, Sierra Leone
Hometown: Kenema, Sierra Leone
Citizenship: Sierra Leone
Acquired: Signed via allocation ranking on October 7, 2014. Kamara will be formally added to the club’s roster on January 1, 2015, pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate
Previous Experience: Middlesbrough FC (2013-2014), Norwich City (2013), Sporting Kansas City (2009-2013), Houston Dynamo (2008-2009), San Jose Earthquakes (2008), Columbus Crew (2006-2007)