New England Soccer Today

A Seamless Transition

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

Photo credit: Kari Heistad/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Despite arriving in Foxboro only a day prior to New England’s contest with the Chicago Fire, Kei Kamara seemed to fit right in in his debut with the Revolution.

Kamara was acquired in a trade with Columbus just prior to the deadline earlier this week and had one training session with his new club on Friday but that didn’t stop head coach Jay Heaps from putting his newest player in the starting XI in the club’s 2-0 win over Chicago on Saturday night.

“To be honest, it was a whirlwind,” Heaps said. “It was a last minute trade at the deadline so we weren’t sure if we were going to get him or not. It took an extra day to get him here and meet with him and see how he was in training. Ideally you’d like to ease him into it but we were actually a little banged up. With Teal [Bunbury] being out, Chris [Tierney] being out we were shifting things around so he became our best option and we got him right into it.”

The 31-year-old striker started alone up top with Juan Agudelo and Diego Fagundez flanking him on the wings. Lee Nguyen played the entire 90 minutes tucked in behind with Scott Caldwell and Gershon Koffie occupying defensive midfielder spots in the opening lineup.

“It did [change the game plan], of course,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic. “It was just a small adjustment, you prepare different kind of video. We already played against Columbus, we played against him so we were prepared. I thought the guys did great job with him. He’s a great player, very difficult to defend but I think our guys did a great job.”

Although Kamara didn’t score a goal or register an assist, he fit in nicely with the system and displayed some chemistry with the attacking options around him.

“I thought he was really good tonight,” Heaps continued. “[Opponents] are going to key on him, and when they do it opens space up for Lee. I thought Lee had one of his better games because there was so much space. Kei is going to occupy two and sometimes three players and that right off the bat helps us. But I thought Kei was also excellent in keeping plays alive. That was my favorite part of tonight of how he battled for loose things, kept things alive and then when he keeps things alive, that guys Lee in the game, Diego in the game, Juan in the game, it really helped out our entire attack.”

Kamara had a game-high six shots with four being place on target, also the most by any player on the pitch. He registered New England’s first shot of the game in the 13th minute, a low shot off a cross from Fagundez that was stopped by Chicago goalie Matt Lampson.

Less than 10 minutes, Kamara’s chemistry with Nguyen was clear as the two combined to set up a corner that New England cashed in on. The duo moved up the left side by exchanging multiple passes that resulted in a shot from Kamara at the near post that Lampson pushed aside for a corner. On that corner, the Revolution ran a set play that resulted in Nguyen finding the back of the net.

“It’s really fun when you can win a game like that,” Kamara said after the game. “I’m excited to be here but even more excited right now I’m going to get back to my hotel room and know we got three points today.”

“I want to thank Columbus obviously,” Nguyen said with a big smile. “He’s a great addition, he’s so smart, so athletic. He wins everything. You’re going to have to watch him and he adds another dynamic to our attack. Now we’re lethal with crosses and we already know we can play through the middle so now we have both.”

The duo of Nguyen and Kamara linked up once again in the 52nd minute only to be denied by Brandon Vincent at the far post. Nguyen whipped in an out-swinging corner that Kamara rose up at the penalty spot to head but the bouncing ball was headed off the line by Vincent.

“It’s a bit different but there are some good players out there and for me I really want to be able to connect with them on the field and it looked like we were kind of understanding each other a bit faster than I expected,” Kamara said of playing with a new group of teammates. “It’s going to be a lot of work on the training ground but tonight was good.”

“Kei came to us and right away, we know who he is, he’s punished us before,” Heaps said. “So when you have someone in the league that you know when they come into the locker room with instant respect, it energizes the team and I could tell right away yesterday. We worked him in slowly and surely enough there was a great energy. You could see the chemistry between him and Lee was really good tonight. The goal off the corner kick came from great combination play between the two of them, I don’t even know how many passes they had between each other but it was really good, quick play and I’m excited to see that going forward.”

Kamara also drew a game-best four fouls, tied with Agudelo.

“Kei was great today, obviously cause a lot of problems and it opened up space for other players,” Nguyen said.

“He’s a good player,” Kamara stressed back about Nguyen. “Seriously, I’ve watched him play so many games and score goals like the one he did today. I’m just hoping that I’m able to connect with him a lot better.I’m hoping I’m able to be that target forward that he’s looking for. Not only that but the ball that came from Diego to me to Lee, which he should have shot but he decided to give it back to me. Those things are good but it’s going to be a lot of work because teams are going to start reading it.

“It was a good game. When you’re playing at home, you really have to take it to teams and that’s what we did today. Playing at home, that’s all that matters is three points.”

With a week of training ahead, Kamara and the Revolution will look to further develop their chemistry before New England plays host to FC Dallas on Saturday.

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