By Sahr Morris Jnr…..
Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara Wednesday signed a contract extension with U.S. Major League Soccer (MLS) side Columbus Crew SC until the end of 2018 league season.
The Crew, who made an official announcement of the new deal on their website, said the contract extension makes the Sierra Leone native a ‘Designated Player’ and that he will occupy a ‘Designated Player’ roster spot with immediately effect.
However, the terms of the deal were not disclosed, although it was reported that the former Middleborough striker will be paid at least $1 million per season under the ‘Designated Player rule’- a rule that was adopted in 2007, when it allowed LA Galaxy to sign David Beckham.
Kamara becomes Crew SC’s fourth ‘Designated Player’, joining Federico Higuain, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Andres Mendoza.
“We are proud to be able to offer Kei a contract extension,” Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter told the club website.
“To me, he is a true success story in this League: a player who has worked his way up the ranks and now has earned a Designated Player contract following one of the most prolific goal-scoring seasons in MLS history last year. It also demonstrates tremendous support from club owner Anthony Precourt in signing two Designated Players and showing his ambition for where he wants this club to go. This is great news for Columbus and I am excited to see what Kei can do this year.”
Kamara scored a total of 26 goals last season (regular season and playoffs combined). In recognition of his successful season, he was named in the end-of-year MLS Best XI for the first time in his career.
He was also nominated for the Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month award four times (April, May, August and September) and was named MLS Player of the Week three times (Weeks 12, 23, 28).
The ‘Designated Player Rule’, nicknamed the Beckham Rule, was adopted as part of the salary cap regulations of the MLS for the 2007 season. The rule allows each MLS franchise to sign players that would be considered outside of the team’s salary cap (either by offering the player higher wages or by paying a transfer fee for the player), allowing MLS teams to compete for star players in the international soccer market.