“It’s an opportunity to be a part of something special” | Kammarman excited to join Revolution

5_13_24 David Kammarman

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Revolution’s front office was busy on April 23, the day the MLS Primary Transfer Window slammed shut, bringing in two new signings just under the wire – Xavier Arreaga and Aljaž Ivačič – who thus far have slotted into the squad nicely. But behind the scenes, an entirely separate effort was underway to bring in a man who could have a profound impact on New England’s incoming transfers for years to come.

That man is David Kammarman, who was announced one week later as the club’s new Head of Player Recruitment, bringing with him a history of success and a wealth of knowledge from his years around the league and supercharging the club’s scouting efforts going into the summer and beyond.

“He was our number one choice, and it was a four-month process of hiring him,” Sporting Director Curt Onalfo told revolutionsoccer.net last week. “He was our target and was able to become available in April. So we’re very happy to have him part of our group.”

That front office group, consisting of Onalfo, Assistant Sporting Director Chris Tierney, Technical Director Remi Roy, and now Kammarman, is now tasked with doing their part to help turn around the club’s recent dip in form and reclaim their status as one of Major League Soccer’s most competitive teams.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge of helping New England,” Kammarman said. “It’s clear that we are an ambitious club, and so for me it’s an opportunity to be a part of something that can be special.”

Fortunately, they’ve brought in somebody who knows a thing or two about winning in this league. Kammarman has already amassed considerable success in a number of roles around MLS. Most recently, he served as Head Scout for Los Angeles FC for five years, seeing the club win one MLS Cup and two Supporters’ Shields in that time and becoming known around the league as the man who identified 2023 MLS Golden Boot winner Denis Bouanga for the Black and Gold.

Prior to that, from 2009 to 2016, Kammarman was the Director of Soccer Operations for the LA Galaxy, a stint that saw the star-studded club win MLS Cup three times and lift the Supporters’ Shield twice. Onalfo overlapped with Kammarman for a few years at the Galaxy, but Curt said that their relationship went even further back than that.

“I’ve known David since the start of the league, 1996, and worked with him in Los Angeles for years,” Onalfo said. “He’s been in the business a long time, he’s been part of winning organizations and helping winning organizations acquire players, and it’s a really important part of the business.”

That part of the business never stops, whether the transfer window is open or closed, and both Kammarman and Onalfo confirmed that the team’s scouting efforts were already well underway ahead of the summer window, which opens in July.

“We are already working together, so having a prior relationship and understanding is always good,” Onalfo said, later adding, “We’re in the process of constantly looking to enhance our team, and so we’re 1,000 percent in it right now.”

Kammarman was similarly glad to be able to work with Onalfo again.

“Obviously Curt and I have known each other a long time,” he said. “It goes all the way back to when he played at D.C. United. I even did some work with him coaching while he was in Virginia and I was in Maryland. So he knows me very well, and we trust each other. The opportunity to work with someone like him was an important factor in coming to New England because I think we can learn and grow together. That was a big part of it.”

When asked about how an incoming Head of Player Recruitment gets up and running in their role, Kammarman said he’d been starting by getting familiar with the club’s current situation and personnel.

“Of course, it’s getting to know the team,” he said, “and also the players and the staff and the people that I’ll be working with, and just getting a sense as to what [head coach] Caleb [Porter] is like and what he prefers, and what the team needs. It’s important to get an understanding of where we are, and then where we want to go.”

The way that soccer players are evaluated has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, with a boom in data analytics inexorably introducing terms like “expected goals” and “underlying numbers” into the vernacular for scouts and fans alike. However, Kammarman said that he preferred to trust the knowledge of soccer professionals over blind reliance on data in his line of work.

“[Data is] certainly an important tool to help us filter players, and help us analyze them,” he said. “I’m still a little bit more of an old-school person in the sense that I trust people’s eyes.”

Onalfo confirmed that this ideology lined up exactly with his and the club’s.

“The way I’ve always said it: we’re data-informed, we’re not data-driven,” Onalfo said. “We utilize the data to help us make intelligent decisions with players. We rely on data; it’s a component to the whole equation. But we rely on soccer knowledge that’s in the building, from our coaches to this side of the business as well.”

While one of the main focuses of player recruitment is identifying individuals who can immediately slot into a team and make an impact, another major factor is working to build talent for the future. This side of talent identification was on full display this past week with the announcement from the Philadelphia Union regarding the signing of 14-year-old Cavan Sullivan, a Homegrown midfielder tipped to be a generational talent who could make his MLS debut against the Revolution at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.

Kammarman affirmed the importance of identifying talent for the future, saying it wasn’t an either/or situation between identifying immediate additions and cultivating future talent.

“That’s not up to me; that’s our philosophy as a club,” Kammarman said. “Within MLS, it’s certainly important to be able to develop Homegrown players, especially because of the value of domestic players to your roster, but also because it helps demonstrate the ability of New England to develop players and to sell players. That makes us more attractive to be able to attract talent from within the country but also around the world.”

Onalfo echoed the importance of Homegrown talent, and helped to explain the role that Kammarman will have in that aspect of player recruitment.

“You have to make sure you’re hitting it on all cylinders,” Onalfo said, “with the international players you sign, players you make for trades within the league, players you sign through discovery, and then you want to make sure the Pro Pathway is continually developing players for your first team. We’ll incorporate David into that as well. Major focus, though, is just on the first team to start, get it built. Our goal every day is get a little better, and that’s what we do with every day in training, and it’s no different on this side of it in scouting.”

Even before Kammarman’s hire was announced, Porter said he had been hoping for a total of three signings in the Primary Transfer Window, and that he fully intended to add even more pieces in the summer. Now that Kammarman has come on board, chances are that much better that New England will be fighting for top signings every chance they get. Revs fans will be looking forward to seeing how the partnership between the coaching staff and the front office will yield players who will bring the team closer to its goals, both in the short- and long-term.