Kei Kamara’s English adventure took a bit of a hit on Thursday.
The former Sporting Kansas City forward’s contract with Middlesbrough FC, of the English Championship, was canceled via mutual consent, effectively making him a free agent. Kamara left Sporting KC last September to join Boro after a successful loan spell with Norwich in the English Premier League to start 2013.
Kamara’s time at Boro was plagued by issues — including a very public Twitter spat with the club after dealing with malaria this off-season. While he might have been a fan favorite in Kansas City, he wasn’t with his most recent club.
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Through all of his most recent tribulations with the club, he maintained strong ties to Kansas City. He recuperated from malaria and got married here.
But before Kansas City starts clamoring for his triumphant return, there are a few hurdles to overcome.
1. Kansas City accepted a transfer fee for him.
Should Kamara want to come back to Major League Soccer, he would have to go through the allocation process (which, based off the Jermaine Jones situation, isn’t the most transparent rule in the MLS rule book). Had Kamara left on a free (like Roger Espinoza), KC would’ve retained his rights and had first choice to sign him.
The allocation rankings determine which teams get first choice on any returning U.S. men’s national team player or returning MLS veteran — provided they don’t reach a certain, MLS-approved threshold. (That’s certainly a little bit shady.)
Teams can trade for a better spot in the rankings, but Sporting KC is 16th in the allocation rankings — meaning they’d have to trade way up the rankings or have 15 teams pass on a proven MLS scorer.
The league could obviously intervene (a la Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley), but it’s hard to imagine Kamara is on that level.
2. Kamara might not want to come back.
The Sierra Leone striker left twice for England in 2013. First to Norwich on a four-month loan, then to Middlesbrough. Proving himself at higher levels in Europe has obviously been a goal of his. While the Boro deal didn’t work out, he was quite successful with Norwich and could find a home at a different team.
3. Kansas City might not need him — or be willing to part with what it might take to get him.
While Kamara would likely be an upgrade over his former running mate C.J. Sapong on the wing, he could be redundant with Dom Dwyer. Both are shoot-first, offensive-focal points who get into space based off sheer athleticism and hustle.
Can you play both? They didn’t share the field much last year, as most of Dwyer’s starts came after Kamara had left for England.
More importantly, can Kansas City afford the price it might take to move up in the rankings? Several teams above them (such as Columbus and Chicago — first and fifth in the allocation order) certainly wouldn’t make it easy on an Eastern Conference rival. Dallas (third) and Vancouver (fourth), both firmly chasing playoff position in the West, could also use a guy like Kamara — or attempt to extract a hefty ransom for their spot.
The MLS roster freeze date is looming on Sept. 15th. If any deal is to be made with KC or another MLS club, we’ll know it by then.