Yesterday evening, just an hour before Minnesota United was set to kick off against Houston Dynamo, the club announced they had acquired Kei Kamara from Colorado Rapids. The trade would send no players to Colorado but a 2nd Round pick in the 2022 MLS SuperDraft and $150,000 in 2021 General Allocation Money.
This also means that one of the most prolific scorers in Major League Soccer history will soon be wearing the Loons black and blue. This is by far not Kamara’s first move in his time as a professional. Since graduating from college at CSU Dominguez Hills and finishing his summer season that year with Orange County Blue Star he has played for multiple clubs in the US and England. Kamara has spent time with Columbus Crew (06-07, 15-16), San Jose Earthquakes (2008), Houston Dynamo (08-09), Kansas City Wizards/Sporting Kansas City (09-13), New England Revolution (16-17), Vancouver Whitecaps (2018), and Colorado Rapids (2019-20). He also played in the Premier League on loan with Norwich City in the second half of the 2012/13 season and then in the EFL Championship with Middlesbrough for the 2013/14 season.
While he is 36 years old, Kamara has had all of his best seasons in the last 5 years. Kei scored 22 goals (his most in a single season) in 2015, his first season back in MLS after his time in England. He then scored 12 goals in each 2016 and 17 before scoring 14 goals in both 2018 and 19.
“We’ve added one of the best goalscorers in MLS history,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Given our current situation dealing with injuries we knew we had to make a move and we feel we have added another really important piece to our already potent attacking core. Every team we play now will know they have to contend with one of the best aerial threats in league history. We’ve been very dangerous on set pieces already this season and with the addition of Kei we are now even more dangerous. Kei has loads of experience and will no doubt be a benefit to this roster both on the field and in the locker room.”
With those stats and numbers out of the way lets take a look at some of Kei’s goals so far during the 2020 season.
This play is from Colorado’s clash with San Jose a few weeks ago. Corner kick for the Rapids and they send the ball into the box. You see Kamara moving up towards the top of the six to position himself perfectly to where the ball is coming and in front of the player man marking him. He times his jump perfectly to then be able to angle the header into corner of the goal. Combination of perfect ball placement and perfect positioning leads to this goal.
Now this second goal (above) is actually from Colorado’s MLS Is Back match with Minnesota United. To start the play you can see Minnesota’s defence shifting up the pitch (0:05) opening a wide gap on the bottom (to the camera side). Even with that MNUFC’s defence closes even further in towards Nicolas Benezet (0:07). Benezet sends a pass to Kamara (0:08) and now Kamara is facing Tyler Miller one on one with Miller having no support. Now the MNUFC defence falls back (0:10) to try and cover Kei. However Kei Kamara let’s a nice simple shot go (0:11) towards the near post, beating Tyler Miller on the near side. This goal is actually a combination of MNUFC’s defence entirely sliding away from Kamara but Kei uses that to his advantage to make a small but effective run to be able to score.
This last one is Kamara’s first of his three goals in this odd 2020 season. Please ignore the red paint on DC United’s field from the XFL’s DC Defenders playing at the stadium at the same time. All jokes aside this is an enhanced video version of the play so you can view his positioning from the time Price sets up for the corner. While the initial corner goes over and past Kei as DC United pushes the play out, Rosenberry picks up the ball to restart the attack for Colorado. He then sends it back to Price along the side who fires a gorgeous cross into the box. Kamara takes a nice quick run before jumping to score with a header at the six yard box.
These plays show where Kamara is best at, not necessarily a traditional Striker but rather a goal scoring forward. Something Adrian Heath echoed last night after the draw to Houston Dynamo.
“I see him playing center forward for us. He’s a goal-scoring center forward. And, at this moment in time, that’s what we’re lacking. You know, I think we’ve had a lot of good opportunities on the break this evening, especially in the first half, and, as you say, I’m hoping that a little bit of mentorship and a little bit of understudy from Mason [Toye] watching a guy that has scored goals consistently within the league. And, not only that, his strength and personality is something that people have spoke to us about over the last week or so since this has been going on. So, delighted that we’ve done the deal. We felt it was something that we couldn’t turn down in the current circumstances. And, we think he’ll be a big, big asset for us.”
And it looks like Heath is also expecting Kei to be able to teach and mentor Minnesota’s current young forward, Mason Toye.
“Listening to Stewart Kerr, the goalkeeper coach, who had Kei [Kamara] and was working with Kei in Vancouver, said that Kei had a real big influence on Alphonso Davies there, mentally and off the field. I’ve known Kei for a long time. My son played with him in England. In Norwich. And, so, this goes back a long way. And, as he said to me yesterday, when I rang him, only eight years too late, gaffer. So, it’s been… I have tried a few times to bring him into the club. A couple of his older coaches have rang me today and said, you’ll be amazed at his fitness levels for his age. What I won’t be amazed about is if we get quality balls in the box, I think he will score goals. I think the last two years, I think he’s got nearly 30 in 60 games. What is he, fifth highest goal scorer within the league? So, we know what we’re getting. And, I also know that we’re getting a big personality. And, I think at this moment in time, you know, on the road and when we’ve got, at one stage, we’re going to have plenty of home games, I think he’s going to be a huge threat for us in both boxes.”
Both of Minnesota United’s new acquisitions, Kei Kamara and Adrian Zendejas, could be available for the Loons as early as Wednesday’s away match in Columbus, OH against the Crew.