FOXBOROUGH — A Revolution preseason would not be the same unless a key player was missing. And the Revolution, who kick off their 25th season next month, started practice Monday one player short, as French defender Samba Camara had his visa denied.
Camara was acquired on a transfer from AC Le Havre Dec. 23, but the Revolution announced Monday that his P-1 visa had not been approved. According to a Revolution press release: “Conditions of the transfer . . . were not met and voided the contract.”
No reason was given why the visa request was not granted, and the Revolution declined further comment.
Camara, 27, served a prison term in 2015 after being involved in a burglary, according to published reports. He subsequently was sentenced to wear an electronic bracelet. But Le Havre decided to give him a second chance, and he made his professional debut under former US national team coach Bob Bradley in 2016.
Camara has made 68 appearances for Le Havre in France’s Ligue 2. He has been listed as cocaptain as the team compiled an 8-4-8 record to stand in sixth place.
Camara, who is of Malian descent, grew up in Neiges, the port section of Le Havre, playing for the local club, AM Neiges. Camara joined AC Le Havre in 2013, performing for the second team until signing a professional contract in 2016.
The Revolution roster includes five central defenders: Antonio Delamea, Andrew Farrell, and Michael Mancienne, who shared starting roles last season, plus newcomers Henry Kessler and Simon Lekressner, selected in the MLS draft.
In recent seasons, the Revolution have started preseason training without Jermaine Jones (injured) and Lee Nguyen (contract dispute), and last year listed Gabriel Somi on the roster, though he had been excluded from playing.
Not so fast
Last July 24, Sporting CP played Liverpool to a 2-2 tie in a preseason friendly at Yankee Stadium. Both teams substituted freely late in the match, after all the goals had been scored and Sporting’s starters had played the Reds even.
The future seemed promising for the Lisbon-based, 18-time Portuguese League-winning club. But when the season started, Sporting collapsed, starting with a 5-0 loss to Benfica in the Super Cup final.
Now, Sporting (9-6-2, 29 points) stands in fourth place following a 2-0 loss to Benfica Friday, and has been eliminated from the League Cup after a 2-1 loss to Braga Tuesday. The Leoes (Lions) have a chance to recover in the elimination round of the Europa League, starting with games against Basaksehir Feb. 20 and 27.
Sporting has been developing and selling players for decades: Paulo Futre, Luis Figo, Joao Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani. In the last two years, Sporting has transferred key players such as William Carvalho, Bas Dost, Gelson Martins, Raphinha, Rui Patricio, and Adrien Silva.
Now, Sporting has a chance to break club records for a transfer, asking 55 million pounds ($71.6 million) for Bruno Fernandes. Manchester United has expressed interest in Fernandes, but should Sporting fail to qualify for the Europa League, its credibility, as well as ability to recruit reinforcements, will suffer.
Liverpool is one game away from the 2004-05 Chelsea team’s 40-match unbeaten run going into Thursday’s visit to Wolverhampton. The 2003-04 Arsenal team, with a 49 consecutive-game unbeaten streak, holds the Premier League record.
The Reds have lost once in 61 games (at Manchester City last season) and could tie Arsenal’s mark when they visit Man City April 4. Arsenal’s “Invincibles” won the Premier League with a 26-0-12 (90 points) record in ’04.
Labor pains ahead?
The Revolution will open with a visit to Montreal Feb. 29. But the MLS season could be affected if the collective bargaining agreement, which expires Jan. 31, is not extended.
“No one wants a strike, or work stoppage,” Revolution player representative Scott Caldwell said. “I feel the players are ready for it, just in case.
“But we’ve been working together very well and we’re still in communication and looking forward to getting a good deal done for both sides.
“We’re working toward it and we’ve definitely seen some good from across the league. Hopefully, we will sit down and continue the talks and find common ground and find a deal that’s good for both sides.”Frank Dell’Apa can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter.com/frankdellapa.