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Should the Union make a play for Kei Kamara?

The 31-year-old forward would be an instant upgrade at forward, but at what costs?

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Following a spectacularly disastrous interview on Saturday in which he tore into teammate Federico HiguainColumbus Crew SC striker Kei Kamara has reportedly been placed on the trading block. Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl (the real one) has the scoop:

Though the issues between Kamara and Higuain seem to date back to last season, they have only bubbled to the surface recently. Now, it appears that the situation is beyond the point where it can be resolved amicably, as Columbus looks to ship their leading goalscorer. With the trade and transfer window closing at 1 A.M. EST, a deal must be struck quickly.

Unsurprisingly, last year's Golden Boot runner-up is drawing interest from multiple clubs. Should the Philadelphia Union be one of them? Sure, the Union currently have the highest points-per-game total in the Eastern Conference, and forward CJ Sapong's four goals and one assist have been key to that success. But when one of the best strikers in the league is on the market, every team begins to reevaluate their situation.

Why the Union should trade for Kei Kamara

Barring an improbable disaster, the Union will be in the playoffs this fall. That is a near certainty. Whether this season's crowning achievement will be "made the playoffs" or something more illustrious is still undetermined. Success is fickle, but the Union would be right to add a constant in the form of Kei Kamara.

Of the numerous arguments one could use to rebut that statement, the presence of CJ Sapong might be the most popular. As much as I like Sapong and want to see him realize his potential in a Union jersey, the Union shouldn't pass up an opportunity to make an upgrade at center forward. Since he secured a spot in the starting lineup last year, I hoped that Sapong would follow a career trajectory similar to that of Kamara, his former Sporting Kansas City teammate. Neither player enjoyed sustained success early in their careers, but they began to thrive in their mid-twenties. While Kamara's rise took place on the wings, both players have proven that they belong in the center of the field. That's where Kamara and Sapong thrived last season as they recorded career years. But while they're both succeeding in their natural positions, Kamara is clearly the more complete player at this stage of his career. In 2015, the 31-year-old scored as many goals with as head as Sapong did overall. He's strong, fast, and unbeatable in the air: a perfect target. Sapong could very well become as potent as his old teammate one day, but Kamara can turn in an MVP season right now. That instant and substantial impact that he provides is why so many teams will be blowing up Gregg Berhalter's phone until the deadline passes.

Why they shouldn't

Kamara signed a new DP contract just two months ago, after a fairly lengthy contract dispute. In that linked article from The Columbus Dispatch, Shawn Mitchell reckons that the new deal--which runs through 2018--could pay Kamara seven figures annually. Though the Union may have the cap space and DP spots to take on Kamara's salary, Owner Jay Sugarman would be on the hook for roughly half of it. That's a lot to ask, especially when you consider that the Union have never given a player that kind of money.

In addition to the financial issues presented by the deal, trading for Kamara would betray the trust the Union placed in CJ Sapong when they extended his contract in February. Though the two are friends, Sapong probably wouldn't be too happy with his buddy taking his job, and understandably so. Sapong is coming off the best season of his career, and though it's early, it looks like he will improve upon his goal total from last year. While Kamara is a definite upgrade, the technical triumvirate may decide that a new starting forward is not what this team needs right now.

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