MLS Talking Points: Crew player feud boils over

MLS Cup 2015 runner-up Columbus Crew broke out of its season-long scoring slump -- seven goals in its first eight games -- with four goals on Saturday, but that outburst only revealed a simmering feud between star Kei Kamara and Federico Higuain when they squabbled over who'd take the penalty kick that led to the fourth goal.

It was all downhill after Higuain scored as Montreal rallied for three goals to earn a 4-4 tie to cap off what Crew coach Gregg Berhalter termed an "immature performance." The result left the Crew with only two wins in nine games and mired in ninth place in the Eastern Conference.

The incident took place in the 57th minute when the Crew, leading 3-1, was awarded a penalty kick. Kamara wanted to take the penalty kick, but he said Higuain talked him out of it by saying the Argentine wanted Ethan Finlay to take it.

Finlay, who has never taken a penalty kick in five MLS seasons, said no, prompting Higuain to say he'd take the shot. Captain Michael Parkhurst had to race in and resolve the dispute -- in favor of Higuain, who slotted the penalty kick past Evan Bush and became the Crew's all-time leader with his 14th regular-season penalty kick goal.

Coach Berhalter took the blame for the incident, saying he should have indicated whose responsibility it is to take penalty kicks for each game.

"What I would say is that we have two players that are designated to take penalty kicks and it’s on me for not clarifying which one takes it in this game," he said. "So, I’ll take full responsibility for that, that’s my fault. Rest assured, that’s not going to happen again."

But the damage was done as Kamara would not let the incident go after the match, saying it was "selfishness" for Higuain to insist he should take it, depriving Kamara of a hat trick.

Kamara said Higuain had deprived him of the MLS Golden Boot last season -- he finished with 22 goals, tied with Sebastian Giovinco with 22 goals, who won the award on the basis of his greater number of assists -- when the Argentine took the Crew's two penalty kicks.

Kamara said he didn't have to depend on Higuain, the Crew's playmaker, to get his goals.

"I don’t depend on him," he told Columbus reporters after the game. "I depend on Ethan, I depend on my outside backs to pass me balls.”

Kamara said there wasn't much to talk about with Higuain.

“To me and to the relationship to believe in my No. 10, my playmaker, there is none,” he said. “I never have to worry about it.”
6 comments about "MLS Talking Points: Crew player feud boils over".
  1. J Micciulla, May 9, 2016 at 5:50 a.m.

    Higuain has not been captain since Berhalter's tenure began in 2014. Michael Parkhurst has been captain, and Wil Trapp vice-captain since 2014.

  2. beautiful game, May 9, 2016 at 12:18 p.m.

    This incident must be a sign of things brewing for some time. Higuain should have given Kamara a chance for a hat trick. A simple gesture of team sportsmanship.

  3. Ric Fonseca, May 9, 2016 at 4:16 p.m.

    HMMM! Methinks there is something more "sinister" going on.... But, this sounded more like a couple rec players fighting to take a PKm than a couple of pros with international experience!

  4. Bob Ashpole replied, May 9, 2016 at 4:29 p.m.

    It may sound that way but I bet Kamara's bonus money is tied to goal production.

  5. Bob Ashpole, May 9, 2016 at 4:27 p.m.

    I prefer selfish forwards. The mentality is appropriate to the role. Selfish playmakers on the other hand are a problem. Their primary role is to assist.

  6. Daniel Clifton, May 9, 2016 at 6:40 p.m.

    I can identify with Bob's remark about forwards need to be selfish while playmakers need to be the opposite. It looks like Higuain does not buy into that thinking.

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