Fan-favorite Gyasi Zardes leaves the LA Galaxy after five seasons.
UPDATE: 11:00 AM 1.20.2018 LA GALAXY MAKE THE TRADE OFFICIAL
Better late than never for the LA Galaxy.
The five-time MLS Cup champions, desperate for a legitimate goal scorer following a season in which they finished last in Major League Soccer, were hopeful they found a solution to their offensive dilemma when they acquired striker Ola Kamara from the Columbus Crew on Friday, as reported by Kevin Baxter of the LA Times (and was subsequently confirmed in a press release).
#LAGalaxy have agreed on a trade that will send Gyasi Zardes and $400,000 in allocation to money to the @ColumbusCrewSC in exchange for F Ola Kamara. Crew get an additional $100,000 if Kamara scores 12 or more goals this season
And while the cost was heavy – homegrown player and fan favorite Gyasi Zardes plus $400,000 in allocation money, including another $100,000 if Kamara scores more than 12 goals in 2018 – the Galaxy still obtained a valuable asset for a very reasonable price.
The deal had been rumored for weeks – at one point linking both Zardes and speedy midfielder Emmanuel Boateng – but the timing couldn’t have been more critical, considering the club opens training camp on Monday at StubHub Center.
“We are very excited to bring Ola to Los Angeles,” said LA Galaxy Head Coach Sigi Schmid said in a press release. “He has been one of the league’s most productive forwards during his two seasons in MLS and we believe he will be a great fit in our attack. We look forward to him joining our squad.”
Kamara’s arrival likely signals an end to an extensive roster overhaul conducted by head coach Sigi Schmid and his son Kurt, the team’s new director of player personnel.
Among the new additions are goalkeepers David Bingham and Brian Sylvestre, midfielder Servanco Carrasco, Swiss defender Rolf Feltscher, midfielder Perry Kitchen, former Sacramento Republic FC defender Emrah Klimenta and Norwegian defender Jorgen Skjelvik.
Kamara, 28 and a native of Oslo, Norway had 35 goals and six assists in 64 career appearances with the Crew, including the postseason. He was paid $482,500 in 2017 according to MLS Players Union figures.
In Zardes, the Crew acquired a U.S. national team midfielder who has struggled since he scored a career-high 17 goals in 2014. The 26-year-old native of Hawthorne finished his Galaxy career with 36 goals and 18 assists in 139 appearances, including the postseason.
Zardes, however, is coming off an injury-plagued 2017 season in which he scored only two goals and had just two assists for a reasonably high price of $577,500. In fact, he had only 15 goals and 12 assists in his last three seasons combined, including the postseason.
“We wish Gyasi all the best in Columbus and we are very appreciative of his efforts on and off the field for the LA Galaxy,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Gyasi was an incredible part of this organization and a role model for many in the Los Angeles community.”
Kamara’s presence should provide quite a boost to an offense that scored only 45 goals, fourth-fewest in the Western Conference, in 2017. The leading scorer was French newcomer Romain Alessandrini, who had 13 goals. Next was Giovani dos Santos with six goals.
The Galaxy have been searching for a legitimate scoring threat since the club chose not to re-sign Robbie Keane following the 2016 season. The Irish international finished his Galaxy career with 92 goals, including 26 game-winners, and 51 assists in six seasons.
The Galaxy also are trying to bounce back from a season in which they finished 8-18-8, worst in MLS, and allowed a franchise-record 67 goals. The latter number was second in the league only to the 70 goals allowed by franchise-side Minnesota United.
TRANSACTION: LA Galaxy acquire Ola Kamara in exchange for Gyasi Zardes and $400,000 in Targeted Allocation Money