Kei Kamara has a resume that Pope Francis would applaud. He was awarded the MLS Fair Play Award in 2007, and, last year, Kamara was given the distinction of MLS Works Humanitarian of the Year. Kamara has been active in working for peace in his native war-torn Sierra Leone, but on Saturday, he was the guilty party in a conflict with his own teammate, Federico Higuain.
Kamara’s Columbus Crew were leading the Montreal Impact 3-1 in the 51st minute. After a foul by Montreal in the penalty area, Columbus were awarded a penalty with which to give themselves a three-goal cushion.
Higuain is the designated penalty taker for Columbus, but Kamara felt as though he should take the spot kick since he was a goal away from a hat trick. Cue one of the strangest on-field spats you’ll ever see given the circumstances. It’s one thing to be dysfunctional in the face of defeat, but here was Columbus on the verge of opening up an insurmountable lead. Or so they thought.
The fracas surrounding the penalty must’ve alerted Montreal to the palpable discord surrounding the 2015 MLS Cup finalists, and Montreal went on to score three unanswered goals, completing a remarkable comeback for a 4-4 draw.
Columbus is now languishing near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, with only nine points from their opening nine games.
After the game, Kamara wasn’t quick to apologize or explain away the situation. “There was no team play,” said Kamara, “and that completely explains the way me and Federico behaved on the penalty kick.” Kamara went on to define the situation in Columbus as “horrible”.
"It's horrible."Kei Kamara doesn't hold back after Columbus blows a 3-goal lead. #CLBvMTL https://t.co/1qXc0gNeog
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) May 8, 2016
Following Kamara’s actions and words, Columbus manager Gregg Berhalter decided to issue a one-game suspension to his influential forward. Not that Kamara is bothered.
“Obviously I didn't agree to it all,” says Kamara, “I won’t agree to it. But he’s the boss, and if he says, ‘We don’t need you for the weekend. You’re going to have to sit out for the weekend,’ there’s nothing I can do about that.”
The falling out between player and manager comes after Kamara re-signed a Designated Player contract with Columbus in March that runs through 2018. Now, trade rumors are swirling regarding Kamara’s potential departure before Thursday’s MLS trade deadline.
Follow me on Twitter: @ConmanFleming