It might be a rainy week in Columbus, but it's a bright one for the city's MLS club. The Columbus Crew announced the signing of forward Kei Kamara on Tuesday morning, they day before the club debuts their rebrand. While neither Kamara nor the rebrand can take to the pitch until 2015, it is an exciting week to be a part of Ohio's MLS franchise.
After a rainy Tuesday training, where the Black and Gold players headed inside the locker room quickly to do their cool down and stretching, head coach Gregg Berhalter addressed the media, answering questions about the future addition to his team.
- Berhalter began by stating the status of Kamara is he's part of the Columbus Crew.
- He said the team had been in communication with him for a long time about allocation ranking and they were searching players to fit a role. At the time, they were talking to Mix Diskerud and other players, but Kamara was a guy they identified early on as someone who could potentially help the team.
- When asked what Kamara brings to the Black and Gold, Berhalter first pointed to his proven goal scoring record in MLS (52 goals in 193 appearances). Although he played out wide in his time with Sporting Kansas City, Berhalter sees him in the number nine striker role.
- Berhalter said Kamara has a lot of attributes that make him valuable. He called Kamara a goal scorer, a hard worker, a leader, and said he's good in the locker room.
- Berhalter didn't want to speak for Kamara, but said he was on board with what the organization wants to do. "I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but after having conversations with him, we told him about our project, we told him what we were doing, and he was on board. He was excited about it."
- The head coach said it was a boost to the locker room to announce a signing such as this. They have been working hard to add quality and everyone is excited about that.
- Berhalter said they never anticipated Kamara to be able to play for the team this year because his contract was terminated after August 5.
- Berhalter said he didn't anticipate the Crew needing to protect Kamara in the expansion draft.
- I asked if it helped that Kamara has been with the club previously and is familiar with the city, the stadium, the training facilities, and Berhalter said it doesn't hurt. He said he doesn't know if it's a huge advantage because things have changed but said it is valuable that he's familiar with and proven in this league. Sometimes it takes foreign players time to adapt.
- Berhalter said he was contacted by a number of MLS teams interested in Kamra wanting to trade for the Crew's allocation spots. He did not know if other clubs around the world were interested in him.
- Berhalter was asked if the signing of Kamara and the rebrand, both with an eye on the future, help or hinder the playoff run, he said it helps. "I think everyone is excited. The player are excited. Although we're announcing these moves for the future, we're purely focused on today and purely focused on Saturday. I think that's important. We're not losing sight of where we want to go this year."
- Berhalter admitted there had to sell Kamara a little bit on coming back here over Kansas City. "That was his club. And what we're trying to do is say, 'okay, here's a different thing. It's a new thing. It's something we feel is a worthwhile project for you.' And we see him as helping lead the charge on what this brand is about.