Galaxy focusing on Ola Kamara, Chris Pontius for possible deals
With preseason training camp opening next week, the Galaxy remain in active discussions to acquire two players with proven production in Major League Soccer.
According to a league source with direct knowledge of the talks, the club is talking with the Columbus Crew about Norwegian forward Ola Kamara. A separate source said the team is the favorite to land free agent Chris Pontius, a 30-year-old winger from Yorba Linda.
The trade for Kamara is the more complicated of the moves, and would likely have a bigger impact on the 2018 roster.
Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid has said multiple times the club is in need of a consistent goal-scoring forward. Since joining the Crew two seasons ago, Kamara, 28, has been one of the league’s deadliest strikers, scoring 16 goals in 2016 and another 18 last season. Only two players — 2017 league MVP David Villa and New York Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips — have scored more regular-season goals over that period.
Much work remains to be done to make the deal happen, however.
One proposed deal for Kamara has the Galaxy sending forward Gyasi Zardes to the Crew along with allocation money and the Galaxy’s No. 2 overall pick in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft. The Galaxy would prefer a deal that includes only Zardes and allocation money, the source said. Winger Ema Boateng has also been discussed as part of a potential trade.
The Galaxy also have the 17th pick in the second round (No. 40 overall), the second pick in the third round (48th overall) and the 21st pick in the fourth and final round (No. 90 overall).
A Galaxy spokesman said no deal was imminent as of Thursday evening.
Kamara reportedly asked for a trade after a season in which he helped lead the Crew to the Eastern Conference final. The Columbus striker would check several boxes for the Galaxy since he is a proven commodity in MLS and would not necessitate a designated-player spot. The Galaxy already have three DPs on their roster in midfielders Giovani dos Santos, his brother, Jonathan, and winger Romain Alessandrini.
And while Kamara would require a new deal if traded — he made just $482,500 last season — his salary would likely remain under $1.5 million per year, which would allow the Galaxy to use targeted allocation money to buy down his salary-cap charge.
Kamara would require an international spot, though, meaning the Galaxy would have to make another move to add him to the roster before the start of the season in March.
The acquisition of Pontius, meanwhile, would add veteran depth to an already deep midfield.
The former UC Santa Barbara star spent the first seven years of his career with D.C. United, earning an MLS Best XI nod as well as five appearances with the U.S. national team. Hamstring injuries nearly forced him into early retirement after the 2015 season, but he instead was traded to the Philadelphia Union, where he reignited his career with 12 goals and six assists in 2016. Pontius had just two goals and six assists last season, however. He would be considered a high-quality addition on the wing, especially if the Galaxy trade Zardes, Boateng — or both — in a deal for Kamara.
If the Galaxy is able to land both Pontius and Kamara, it would conclude an active offseason for Schmid, who has overhauled a Galaxy team that finished dead last in MLS last season. The Galaxy could start as many as eight players this season who weren’t on the active roster when Schmid became the team’s coach in July.
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