VANCOUVER, BC – When Vancouver Whitecaps FC acquired Anthony Blondell back in November, Carl Robinson referenced Kei Kamara – still a member of New England Revolution at the time – when answering a question about Blondell’s qualities.
“I think the league is set up that you need to have power,” Robinson said at the time. “You need to be aggressive. You look at the successful centre forwards this league, the Kei Kamaras, the Fanendo Adis, people like that. They’re obviously built a certain way.”
So it wasn’t a big surprise when the ‘Caps acquired Kamara a few weeks later. Robinson clearly had a mould of striker he was looking for this offseason, and we’re starting to see why.
Blondell and Kamara each have a team-high three goals heading into Saturday’s preseason finale vs. LA Galaxy. Of course, there’s the usual caveat of not reading too much into preseason performances and stats, but the last month has at least offered a glimpse into what the new ‘Caps strikers might be able to offer this season. Both are big, strong players who are good at holding up the ball and getting on the end of crosses, which is perfectly suited to how the ‘Caps play.
Wednesday’s closed-door scrimmage vs. LA Galaxy was Exhibit A.
Blondell got things started in the first half, playing the ball out wide to Bernie Ibini before immediately and instinctively putting his head down and getting into the box. Then, it was a matter of timing his run and finding space between the two defenders, which he did perfectly.
The result? A headed goal into the top left corner.
Kamara’s goal was a little different, in that he wasn’t as involved in the direct build-up. Instead, Nicolas Mezquida delivered a cross from the left flank that eluded Erik Hurtado at the near post. But Kamara had been making his own into the area and he was rewarded with an easy tap-in.
“If he didn’t run into the box and make that 40-yard run, he wouldn’t have gotten his goal,” Robinson told whitecapsfc.com. “He’s got a desire to score goals. Both of the players have. We’re going to need both of them, as well as Erik along the way.”
Blondell, who at the age of 23 is a young up-and-comer, and Kamara, who is the elder statesman at the age of 33, have yet to play together in a partnership this preseason. But as Robinson has said, that will no doubt be an option in certain games. As of now, there appears to be a healthy level of competition between the two strikers and that too is an exciting prospect indeed.
Saturday’s preseason finale vs. LA Galaxy will be streamed live on whitecapsfc.com at 7 p.m. PT. Whitecaps FC open the 2018 MLS regular season against Montreal Impact next Sunday, March 4 at BC Place (single match tickets are on sale now).