As another weekend of Major League Soccer action gets set to kick off, Jason Davis looks around the league to preview matches and storylines you should be following.
Kamara could be set for Revs debut
The biggest story of the season to this point takes center stage Saturday with Kei Kamara's potential debut as a member of the New England Revolution when they face the Chicago Fire. The Revs' blockbuster trade for the former Columbus Crew SC striker cost them a pretty penny (in MLS terms), and they won't want to wait to get Kamara into their lineup. The club says there's a chance he will be available, which might just be a hedge against the small chance he won't be in New England and settled by the time the game kicks off Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Even if Kamara doesn't play, his arrival will be the story. New England has a pair of forwards -- Juan Agudelo and the banged-up Charlie Davies -- who can't be too happy to hear the news that their club thought it necessarily to trade for reinforcements. Further, there's the matter of how Kamara's presence at the center-forward position will or won't change the way that the team plays. Kamara seems made for crosses coming from Chris Tierney, Kelyn Rowe, et al, but it would be presumptuous to think chemistry will happen immediately.
New England still needs to work out some defensive issues, which Kamara doesn't address. But trading for an MLS elite-level forward will help them put the ball in the net more often, perhaps giving them the benefit of positive scorelines. Playing from the front is not something the Revs have done much of this season, and it could help Jay Heaps' team get on track in 2016.
Kamara-less Crew SC faces Rapids
Jermaine Jones and the red-hot Colorado Rapids won't take any pity on Columbus when they visit the Rockies on Saturday.
The flipside of Kamara's potential debut for New England is Crew SC on the road in Colorado playing without him. Considering how dependent Columbus had been on the striker before trading him, it will be a strange to see them lining up minus his significant presence. Crew SC was built around the idea of getting Ethan Finley and Justin Meram up the wings to serve balls into Kamara. Look no further than the progression of Columbus from pre-Kamara 2014 to the 2015 side that hosted an MLS Cup final to understand why the trade is so momentous.
Crew SC wouldn't have traded its leading scorer if there wasn't something very wrong in the locker room at MAPFRE Stadium. Assigning blame in this situation is a fool's errand without knowledge of the behind-the-scenes dynamics, but it's hard to believe that Federico Higuain didn't exacerbate any discord through his actions and lack of accountability this week. What matters in the short term -- at least until Columbus can use some of the reported $500,000 in allocation money they collected from New England to find a replacement -- is how the team gets on without a center forward.
And it had to be Colorado, a team that is riding high on a wave of confidence and can beat teams down with the best in MLS. Jermaine Jones won't be taking pity on Crew SC. The Rapids' defense has been solid even against in-form teams this year, putting ample pressure on Gregg Berhalter's side to figure things out on the fly. Life without Kei begins now.