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Letter from Sporting CEO confirms Kamara’s loan-to-buy move to Norwich

Jan 30, 2013, 12:47 PM EDT


That didn’t take long. Just hours ago news started to break about a potential Kei Kamara move from Sporting KC to Norwich City, and while we noted team and league approval were still pending, it looks like that’s been taken care of, too. Sporting CEO Robb Heineman, in a letter posted to the club’s website, explained the club has agreed to loan their leading scorer to the Canaries through the end of the Premier League season. Norwich also has an option to buy the Sierra Leone international at the end of the loan.

The letter may not reveal any earth-shattering secrets, but it’s still noteworthy. Here’s an MLS CEO taking time to outline to his fan base why his team not only let their leading scorer go but why it’s a good thing.

Possibly the key passage:

Strange as it may seem, we think this gives us the best opportunity to keep Kei long-term. As much as he loves Kansas City, Kei deeply wants to experience the EPL and this is his chance. So we’ve partnered with him to give him the chance to do so for the first 10 games this season. The loan proceeds will allow us to reinvest in our existing young core of players and solidify their futures in the club. In the event Kei is signed by Norwich City, our club would receive a very fair transfer fee that again, we’d use to reinvest in our club. If Kei returns in May, his contract is extended and we will work in earnest to sign him to a deal that keeps him with the club through the end of his career. If we hadn’t have done this, Kei would have left at the end of the year as a “free” player, similar to Roger Espinoza this past year.  So the risk we take is allowing him to go for 10 games this year, in hopes of getting him for years to come. 

Perhaps if Espinoza hadn’t already left, Heineman wouldn’t have taken the time to outline the club’s though process, but there’s no defensiveness in the subtext. Instead, Heineman’s outlining a policy that acknowledges Major League Soccer realities, one that paints Sporting as a club sympathetic to its players’ aspirations:

One of the frustrating things for fans, but a fact of life, is that our players will have aspirations to play in the top leagues throughout the world – most especially the EPL. If we are to continue on the track of being a well-respected organization for player development, then it will be inevitable that teams will come after our players and that our players will have desires to go test their talents in these top leagues. 

Suffice to say, this view has not always been present in Major League Soccer. Among fans, there are still misgivings that MLSappears to be selling more players, but as Heineman notes in the Espinoza example, there is a downside to holding on to players for too long. Like it or not, selling players (and recouping some of your investment) is an economic reality of the soccer world.

It’s a reality that will see Kamara in Norwich through May, by which time Kansas City will know whether they’ll need a replacement. If they do, Sporting gets money from Norwich which will help them replace Kamara in the summer window. If they don’t, they get their leading scorer back.

  1. dreadpirate82 - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Norwich City and Wigan jerseys will be hot commodities in Kansas City. The fanbase seems very happy for both Kei and Roger.

  2. player169 - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:20 PM

    KC has such great management. Seems like a win-win situation. They certainly have plenty of talent on the team to account for his loss and if he is gone at the end of 10 games, you have $$ to go out and get another piece of the puzzle. With CCL games in the mix, I hope that talent won’t get stretched too thin, but this will give Saad a chance to get the playing time he needs to continue his development…

  3. mrtuktoyaktuk - Jan 30, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    Heineman is absolutely correct and has the proper approach to this. The worst possible evolution for MLS would be for it to be seen as a terminal career choice.

  4. charliej11 - Jan 30, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    How else can Heineman paint it, the bigger money teams take what they want in soccer. If he is good enough he will be taken again. Bummer, but it is the evil of soccer, it is the way it is set up.
    I don’t think MLS is that far away from being able to change that, aka beat out all but the big boys, there isn’t much money in soccer, but they have to keep taking large baby steps until the crowd starts jumping in behind.

    It is a shame, I really liked watching him, now he disappears to a team with no chance of winning in a league I don’t care about.

    I think KC is hurting. The pressure D they had in place really was great to witness, a big part of that was KK ( and to a certain extent Espinoza ). I wouldn’t be shocked if the great defense just becomes good now….and with not enough goals to really be a playoff team they need the great defense.

  5. crossmlk - Jan 30, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    I’m not real sure that your real familiar with SKC and their roster. The team will play the same style as they have since PM took over as coach with or without Kamara and Espinoza. They have some nice young players in place who will now have to step up. Will they miss Kei, certainly. On defense…well not so much. He was committed to playing both ways for SKC and has excellent ball skills but his loss from a defensive standpoint shouldn’t hurt SKC too much.

    For the time being MLS isn’t in the position to pay as well as the bigger leagues in the world. In a decade I think that the worm will turn.

    • wfjackson3 - Jan 30, 2013 at 10:33 PM

      I generally agree with you cross, but the problem is we are now replacing our two highest energy players. Espinoza and Kei both worked tirelessly for the full 90, and as you noted, Kei was known to track back and make plays on D too. I was pretty sure we could handle losing 1 of our stars, but we are now down two-thirds of our dynamic attacking players.

      Will players need to step up? Yes, but let’s not kid ourselves. Saad is no Kamara. Peterson is no Espinoza. Rosell is neither. Could they be good players in time? Absolutely, but I don’t suspect any of them will be scoring 11 goals and ticking 8 assists next season.

      I agree that they should let both players go and I think they will both do great. Hell, Roger is settling in already. But it will definitely hurt SKC next season.

    • charliej11 - Jan 31, 2013 at 7:52 AM

      I probably am not as familiar as you are with the team…just question the ability to replace. And a big part of their D greatness was the energy attacking D covering the whole field.

      We will see. They were one of my favorite teams to watch last year, I hope that is still the case. Let’s both hope they stay great and finish second to the Sounders in the MLS Cup and USOC in finals that are so close it makes Spork fans cry.

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