COLUMBUS, OH – As Vancouver Whitecaps FC head to Columbus this Saturday to face an undefeated Crew SC side, many eyes will be on the return of Kei Kamara to the team that drafted him in 2006.
As Kamara said this week, “there’s a lot of history” there.
The Sierra Leone native kick-started his professional career with the Crew after being drafted ninth overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, spending two seasons with the club. Then, after spells with San Jose Earthquakes, Houston Dynamo, Sporting Kansas City and a brief stint in England, Kamara returned to Columbus in 2015.
That season, Kamara finished as the league’s joint top goalscorer with 22 goals, was named a league MVP finalist, and helped Columbus reach the MLS Cup Final. But the following season, Kamara was traded to New England Revolution a few days after an on-field dispute with Crew SC midfielder Federico Higuain.
As Kamara said, there’s a lot of history.
“It’s my second biggest home base in America with my family and friends, so I definitely am happy to go back to Columbus,” he told reporters. “I’m happy to go play in that stadium again. It was the team that drafted me, what, 13 years ago, so there’s a lot of history. But to me, about what happened a couple of years ago, come on, that’s way gone.”
Now, Kamara is squarely focused on his new club – rather than exacting any revenge on his old one.
“I have nothing to prove with them any more,” Kamara said. “It’s been a couple of seasons. Neither one of us have done anything since we both left. We’re all in the bottom and this is a new season. I don’t have to prove anything over there, but definitely getting a win over there would be great.”
So far, the charismatic frontman has been very impressive leading the line for the ‘Caps, scoring two goals and notching one assist in his first three games. Kamara also scored his 100th MLS regular season goal in what was his 300th MLS appearance in Vancouver’s 2-1 away win over Houston, earning himself a starting spot in the MLS Team of the Week.
It's been a seamless transition for Kamara thus far, which comes as no surprise to Whitecaps FC head coach Carl Robinson.
Earlier this month, Robinson said "70 to 80 per cent of people" he spoke to about Kamara told him to stay away. But Robinson did not heed the advice because he "loves characters," and Kamara is certainly one of them.
“He’s a really good guy, he’s a top professional, and he’s one of those guys you want to learn from,” said Whitecaps FC defender Jake Nerwinski. “He teaches you every day, whether it’s something little, he’s come to me and given me insight, it’s really awesome to play with him.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is set for 12 p.m. PT on CTV and TSN 1040 radio.