VANCOUVER, BC – A proven goalscorer with personality.
That, in a nutshell, is what Vancouver Whitecaps FC are getting in Kei Kamara, who the 'Caps acquired from New England Revolution on Sunday in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and a conditional second-round pick in 2020.
Here's a closer look at Vancouver's newest striker.
Kamara ranks 10th all-time on Major League Soccer’s all-time scoring list with 98 regular season goals. He’s also the second leading scorer among active MLSers, trailing just Chris Wondolowski. This is a player who has consistently found the back of the net throughout his MLS career. Kamara’s most productive season came back in 2015, when his 22 goals were tied with Sebastian Giovinco for the most in the league. The 33-year-old marksman had 12 goals in each of the two following seasons. “I don’t see myself as a 12-goal striker in this league,” Kamara said at the end of the 2017 season. “I want to be able to produce, I want to be in the postseason. That’s what you shoot for from the first day of preseason.”
Opta, the league’s main statistical provider, has MLS stats available dating back to 2009. And since then, Kamara has scored more headed goals (30) than any other player. He’s also won more aerials (607) than any player during the same period. The 6-foot-3 striker is absolutely dominant in the air, which is a salivating prospect for a team that tends to whip in a lot of crosses.
MAN OF MANY CELEBRATIONS
With many goals come many goal celebrations. There have been props, like a white glove in tribute of Michael Jackson and a yellow hardhat during his time in Columbus. There have been dance moves. Like, a lot of dance moves, including this one time he was shown a yellow card for twerking. Yes, that happened. There was even a failed skateboard grind attempt this past season after Kamara netted his first MLS hat-trick. Kamara’s go-to celebration, however, is the tried and tested heart shaped hands. Fittingly, he actually first used that celebration in Vancouver back in 2011.
Named after his signature goal celebration, Kamara founded the HeartShapedHands Foundation in 2012 to provide scholarships to schools and students in his native Sierra Leone, West Africa. The premise is quite simple. According to the foundation website, this allows Kamara to “follow his heart and use his hands to give back to his home country.” He has also been working with Schools for Salone since 2005, which has helped rebuild schools in Sierra Leone villages that were destroyed in the civil war. Kamara has been open about the challenges of growing up in Sierra Leone during the civil war, recently telling FourFourTwo: “There wasn't anything I didn't witness, whether it was a roadside killing, any of that. I was just a kid. No kid should have to witness stuff like that. But those are things that obviously make me a better and stronger person going through all the things I've been going through.”
On February 23, 2013, Kamara become the first Sierra Leonean to score a goal in the English Premier League when, as a member of Norwich City FC, he powered in a header against then Everton FC goalkeeper Tim Howard to tie the match at 1-1. Norwich would go on to win 2-1.