VANCOUVER, BC – Kei Kamara has made a living off of scoring goals from crosses.
He’s big, smart with his movement, and absolutely dominant in the air – just the attributes Carl Robinson has been looking for. That’s why Vancouver Whitecaps FC jumped at the opportunity to acquire Kamara on Sunday, sending a first-round MLS SuperDraft pick in 2019 and a conditional second-rounder in 2020 to New England Revolution for the Designated Player striker.
“He fits what we need at this moment,” Robinson said. “We’re a team that puts a lot of crosses into the box and he thrives off crosses.”
That, he certainly does.
Kamara’s highlight-reel speaks for itself. So do his statistics. Eight of Kamara’s 12 goals in 2017, and 20 of his 31 goals with Columbus Crew SC in 2015 and 2016, came from crosses. The 6-foot-3 striker has also scored more headed goals (19) than any other player since returning to MLS in 2015 from his stints with English outfits Norwich City FC and Middlesbrough FC.
“I feel like every time the ball comes in the air I think he has a 90 per cent chance to win the ball,” said Whitecaps FC midfielder Tony Tchani, who was a teammate of Kamara’s in Columbus.
This is the type of player the ‘Caps have been longing.
Only two teams attempted more crosses than Vancouver in 2017, but Robinson admitted there were times the ‘Caps “lacked numbers in the box” to get on the end of them.
Now, they’ll have a big target to aim for.
But Kamara is more than just a big body. He’s also a big personality, which as he discussed in a FourFourTwo interview this year, sometimes has him misunderstood. Tchani, for his part, said Kamara was “great in the locker room” and one of the Crew’s leaders during his time in Columbus – someone who did a good job bringing the team together. And Robinson had similar praise.
“I know Kei personally,” Robinson said. “And I know people who know him and speak very highly of him. He’s a character. You need characters in the locker room.”
“He wants to win,” Robinson added. “In any conversation you have with a player, if they mention winning in the first couple of sentences you know that they’re good people and they’ve got the same mindset as you and Kei certainly has got that.”
The 33-year-old is Vancouver’s second attacking addition of the offseason, joining 23-year-old Venezuelan striker Anthony Blondell. Robinson said he has “chased Kamara a number of times” over the years, confirming there were talks to acquire the Sierra Leonean from Columbus in 2016.
As the old adage goes: “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
“We firmly believe he can help lead our team and this group of players, especially the forward players, into exciting times next year,” Robinson said.