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L.A. Galaxy land Ola Kamara in trade that sends Gyasi Zardes to Columbus

Ola Kamara (right) of Columbus Crew SC battles for the ball during the second leg of the 2017 MLS Eastern Conference finals at BMO Field in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The Galaxy filled their need for a dangerous striker Friday when they acquired Ola Kamara from Columbus in exchange for national team midfielder Gyasi Zardes.

The Galaxy will also send allocation money to the Crew in the deal, which has been in the works for weeks.

The Galaxy struggled for offense last season when they were shut out 11 times in 34 games. Only one player, midfielder Romain Alessandrini, who had 13 goals, scored more than six times.

Kamara, a 28-year-old from Norway, offers an immediate upgrade. In his first two years in MLS he has 34 goals, third-most in the league over that span.

Zardes, meanwhile, a homegrown player from Hawthorne who grew up in the shadow of the Galaxy’s StubHub Center home, has struggled since scoring 17 times in 2014, the final goal coming in the Galaxy’s last MLS Cup win.

Over the last three seasons combined Zardes — who was sidelined by injuries for extended periods in both 2016 and 2017 — had just 14 regular-season goals. And his struggles in front on the net last season were so profound he made his final three starts at right back instead of forward.

That lack of a consistently dangerous player up front was a big reason why the Galaxy finished at the bottom of the MLS standings for the first time with a franchise-worst 8-18-8 record.

Coach Sigi Schmid has overhauled the team this winter and could open the new season with eight starters who weren’t on the roster when he took over the club last July.

The team added two more players in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft, taking Stanford defender Tomas Hilliard-Arce with the second overall pick and Hilliard-Arce’s college teammate, midfielder Drew Skundrich, with the 17th pick in the second round.

Zardes earned $577,500 in 2017 while Kamara got $482,500, although Kamara will get a new contract with a raise in the trade. The Galaxy will also need to acquire an additional international roster spot to activate Kamara before the March 4 season-opener. The Galaxy are currently maxed-out with foreign players at seven.

Zardes, who joined the national team in its January training camp last week, said he was aware the Galaxy had been quietly offering to trade him since early last season.

Former Galaxy assistant Dave Sarachan, now interim coach of the U.S. national team, said he has faith Zardes will figure things out, which he why he called him into camp.

“He did have a tough year with injury. But he’s still at a good age,” Sarachan said. “He still is a player that I believe can play at this level. Yes, confidence is a big thing. But … he belongs in this group.”




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