After days of rumors, D.C. United has confirmed the signing of Ola Kamara ahead of the close of the MLS transfer window. Acquiring Kamara from Shenzhen FC cost United $2.5M in Targeted Allocation Money, making it the second-most expensive deals in club history. In order to acquire his rights, D.C. United sent $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2019 and $100,000 in General Allocation Money in 2020 to the Colorado Rapids.
As reported by Pro Soccer USA’s Emily Olsen, the 29-year-old Kamara has already joined United for training sessions as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the LA Galaxy:
#DCU first 15 minutes of open training:— Emily Olsen (@EmilyTOlsen) August 6, 2019
Rooney (obviously) absent and will likely not be available tomorrow
Canouse (lung) and Durkin (ankle) were also missing from training
Rumored potential signing Ola Kamara was not at the first 15 mins, but headed to the field after
That said, his availability for Sunday’s home game against the LA Galaxy (a former club of Kamara’s) hinges on whether his International Transfer Certificate comes through. Even though he had previously acquired a green card during his last spell in MLS, Kamara will count as an international.
While the full details of the move have not been announced, The Athletic’s Sam Stejskal reported yesterday that United has structured the deal so that Kamara’s 2019 cap hit is under the Designated Player threshold.
Adding to this: Sources tell me that, despite the $2.5m transfer fee, Kamara will not hit above the DP threshold in 2019. D.C. able to get him on a relatively low salary. Status could change in future due to various conditions in contract, potential new MLS rules. https://t.co/iakhcnrcEp— Sam Stejskal (@samstejskal) August 6, 2019
That’s an important note, as United currently has Wayne Rooney, Paul Arriola, and Lucas Rodriguez as their three DPs.
Kamara will be expected to add a major scoring threat to United, who are currently 17th overall in MLS when it comes to goalscoring. Only two teams currently in playoff spots have scored fewer goals (the Galaxy, with 30, and FC Dallas with 31). However, Kamara’s time with Shenzhen did not go smoothly, and his last competitive game appears to have been on June 16th. Most likely, Kamara will not quite be 90 minutes fit just yet, and it’s fair to expect at least a little rust as a result.
However, Kamara’s prior experience in MLS bodes well. The Oslo native scored 48 goals in 90 appearances in one season with the Galaxy and two more with the Columbus Crew. His lowest-scoring season, with LA in 2018, still saw him score 14 goals despite being played out of position on the wing due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival.
It remains unclear how Ben Olsen intends to use his new signing. With every player available, there are arguments for a return to a 4231 formation so that he can replicate that left winger role while Wayne Rooney is still in town, before transitioning to having Kamara up front in 2020. It is also plausible for Olsen to continue playing the 343 he’s preferred of late, deploying Rooney, Kamara, and Luciano Acosta as a front three while Paul Arriola moves to a wingback role.
However they opt to lineup, United’s hopes for Kamara are for a quick impact. With only 9 games left in the season and stuck in a lengthy rut, the Black-and-Red are hoping Kamara’s arrival can spark a return to their early-season form.