Kei Ansu Kamara (/ /; born 1 September 1984) is a Sierra Leonean footballer who currently plays for Canadian club Vancouver Whitecaps FC as a striker. In 2015, Kamara tied for top scorer in MLS with 22 goals, losing out to Sebastian Giovinco on the Golden Boot on fewer assists. He is one of only 10 players to have scored 100 goals in MLS history, achieving the landmark in 300 appearances.
Kamara playing for the Houston Dynamo in 2009
|Full name||Kei Ansu Kamara|
|Date of birth||1 September 1984|
|Place of birth||Kenema, Sierra Leone|
|Height||6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)|
|Vancouver Whitecaps FC|
|2004–2005||Dominguez Hills Toros|
|2004–2005||Orange County Blue Star||19||(16)|
|2008||San Jose Earthquakes||12||(2)|
|2009–2013||Sporting Kansas City||113||(38)|
|2013||→ Norwich City (loan)||11||(1)|
|2015–2016||Columbus Crew SC||41||(27)|
|2016–2017||New England Revolution||52||(19)|
|2018–||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||5||(3)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 22:26, 9 April 2018 (UTC)
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 13:26, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Early life and educationEdit
Kamara was born and raised in Kenema, Sierra Leone's third largest city, and began his career playing for Kallon F.C. from 2001–2003. At age 16, Kamara and his family migrated to the United States through a refugee program, initially moving to Maryland, before settling with relatives in Hawthorne, California, near Los Angeles. He became an American citizen.
Kamara played college soccer at California State University, Dominguez Hills, where, in his second year, he was named third-team All-American. Kamara also spent two seasons with Orange County Blue Star in the USL Premier Development League.
2006–2009: Columbus, San Jose, and HoustonEdit
On 24 July 2008, Kamara was traded to Houston Dynamo for a first-round pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft and allocation money. On 30 September 2008, Kamara scored two goals for MLS champion Houston Dynamo against Mexican club UNAM Pumas in a CONCACAF Champions League match.
Sporting Kansas CityEdit
On 15 September 2009, Kamara was traded to Sporting Kansas City for Abe Thompson and allocation money. Kamara had several productive seasons with Kansas City which saw him become one of the most imposing wingers in the league.
Kamara was a transfer target of Norwich City of the English Premier League during the winter 2013 transfer window, following an unsuccessful trial at Stoke City earlier in the off-season. It was announced on 30 January 2013 that Kamara was signed on loan by Norwich for the remainder of the 2012–13 Premier League season. Norwich had the option for a pre-negotiated permanent transfer or to return Kamara to Sporting at the end of the season, in which case Kamara would miss the first 10 matches of the MLS season. As part of the deal, Kamara's contract with Major League Soccer was extended. Norwich City announced on 5 February that Kamara was granted a visa, making him legally eligible to play for the club. He made his league debut for Norwich as an 86th-minute substitute in a 0–0 draw with Fulham four days later. On the next matchday, 23 February, he came on as a 58th-minute substitute, and 19 minutes later, scored his first goal for Norwich, equalising 1–1 against Everton with a powerful header at Carrow Road, in an eventual 2–1 victory. Kamara assisted team-mate Wes Hoolahan in the 1–1 draw against Sunderland on 17 March, as his header past the goalkeeper was deflected into the net by Hoolahan who was standing on the goal-line. Kamara later claimed the only reason he did not claim the goal as his own was that it was St. Patrick's Day, and he and Irishman Hoolahan had an Irish dance celebration planned.
Kamara quickly became a fan favourite of the Norwich support for his enthusiastic and flamboyant style of play, with some fans composing songs to recognise their new-found hero. Despite this, Kamara did not score any more in a Norwich shirt and Norwich declined the option of taking him on a permanent transfer. On 4 May 2013, Norwich City confirmed the loan deal had ended and he would be returning to Sporting Kansas City immediately.
On 2 September 2013, it was confirmed that Kamara had signed for Middlesbrough of the Championship on a two-year contract for a fee of £900,000. He made his debut for the club twelve days later, coming on as a 63rd-minute substitute in a 1–3 loss to Ipswich Town. On 17 September, Kamara made his first start and scored his first goal for Boro in a 2–2 draw at Nottingham Forest. He followed up his first goal against Forest by scoring on his home debut, a 3–3 draw against Bournemouth four days later. He then scored on 5 October in a 4–1 win at home to Yeovil Town, and twenty days later in a 4–0 home win at over Doncaster Rovers. On 28 August 2014, it was announced that Middlesbrough had parted company with Kamara as his contract had been cancelled by mutual consent.
After parting ways with Middlesbrough, Kamara had a successful trial with recently promoted Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers. However, his work permit renewal application was declined after Sierra Leone fell to 75th place in the FIFA World Rankings and Wolverhampton shifted its focus to signing Yannick Sagbo instead.
Return to Columbus Crew SCEdit
In late August 2014, it was revealed that Kamara could return to MLS but would have to go through the league's allocation ranking system since Kansas City received a transfer fee for the player. At the time, the No. 1 spot in the allocation ranking was held by Columbus Crew SC, the club which initially drafted Kamara in 2006. On 7 October 2014 it was confirmed that Kamara had signed for Columbus and would officially be added to the roster 1 January 2015. Because he was released by Middlesbrough after the 2014 MLS roster freeze, he would not be able to appear for the Crew until the 2015 Major League Soccer season.
The following season, he helped the Crew to the play-offs by finishing second in the Eastern Conference, and finished the 2015 MLS season as the joint top-scorer of the league, alongside Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco, with 22 goals in 33 games, although Giovinco claimed the MLS Golden Boot due to having provided more assists throughout the season (16 compared to Kamara's 8), which was the tie-breaking criterion. In November 2015, he was named one of the three finalists for both the 2015 MLS Landon Donovan MVP Award and the 2015 Advocare MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year Award; he was awarded the MLS Humanitarian of the Year Award on 5 November, although he missed out on the MVP Award, which went to Giovinco. On 8 November, he scored two goals in a 3–1 win over Montreal Impact in the Eastern Conference semi-finals of the MLS Playoffs, including the decisive goal in extra-time, which allowed Columbus Crew to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. On 22 November, he scored in the first leg of the 2015 MLS Playoff Eastern Conference Finals, a 2–0 win over the New York Red Bulls, which allowed Columbus to claim the 2015 Eastern Conference Championship 2–1 on aggregate and advance to the MLS Cup Final. Due to an injury sustained in training, however, it was initially uncertain whether Kamara would be able to feature in the 2015 MLS Cup Final against the Portland Timbers; nevertheless, he played all 90 minutes of the match, scoring the only goal for Columbus in a 2–1 defeat. With 4 goals, Kamara was the top-goalscorer in the 2015 MLS Playoffs, bringing his total seasonal tally to 26 goals although he missed out on the MLS Cup MVP Award, which went to Portland's Diego Valeri.
After being signed to a Designated Player contract, Columbus got off to a rough start in the 2016 season. Kamara scored five goals in his first nine games including a brace against Montreal on 7 May 2016 where Columbus had the lead. An argument arose between Federico Higuain and Kamara over a penalty kick, with Kei potentially getting his first hat trick in his career, however Higuain wanted to take it himself. The game ended in a 4–4 draw. After the game, Kamara publicly called Higuain out in an interview after the game. As a result, he was suspended by manager Gregg Berhalter for the next game.
New England RevolutionEdit
On 12 May 2016, just 5 days after the penalty kick incident with Higuain, Kamara was traded to New England Revolution in a blockbuster deal which saw Columbus receive a first-round pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, a second-round pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, an international roster slot for the 2016 season, general allocation money, targeted allocation money, and a percentage of any fee received should New England transfer Kamara to a club outside of MLS.
Vancouver Whitecaps FCEdit
On 10 December 2017, Kamara was traded by New England to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in exchange for a first-round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft and a conditional second-round selection in the 2020 MLS SuperDraft. If Kamara is reassigned to another MLS team prior to the 2018 roster freeze, the conditional 2020 second round SuperDraft pick would become Vancouver's natural first round selection. In addition, should Vancouver permanently transfer Kamara outside of MLS prior to the 2018 roster freeze, New England and Vancouver will evenly split the clubs' share of the transfer proceeds. He scored on his debut on March 4 against Montreal Impact in a 2–1 win.
Kamara made his debut for the Sierra Leone national football team, commonly referred to as the Leone Stars, on 5 September 2010, during a 1–1 draw with Egypt in Sierra Leone's first group stage match in qualification for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Kamara has since formed a regular partnership up front with fellow Kenema native Mohamed Kallon in the Leone Stars attack.
- Scores and results list Sierra Leone's goal tally first.
|1.||16 June 2012||National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone||São Tomé and Príncipe||1–1||4–2||2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|
|3.||8 June 2013||National Stadium, Freetown, Sierra Leone||Tunisia||1–0||2–2||2014 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|4.||6 September 2014||Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny, Abidjan, Ivory Coast||Ivory Coast||1–0||1–2||2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|
|5.||3 September 2016||Stade Bouaké, Bouaké, Ivory Coast||Ivory Coast||1–1||1–1||2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification|
Kamara earned his U.S. citizenship in 2006.
|Club||Season||League||League cup||Domestic cup||International||Total|
|San Jose Earthquakes||2008||12||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||12||2|
|Sporting Kansas City||2009||6||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||1|
|Norwich City (loan)||2012–13||11||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||11||1|
|New England Revolution||2016||21||7||0||0||5||2||0||0||26||9|
- Sporting Kansas City
- Columbus Crew SC
- "Kamara scores 100th goal, Whitecaps beat Dynamo 2-1". Retrieved 15 March 2018.
- "Kei Kamara, One-on-One: On nightmares, dreams and the perils of being honest". FourFourTwo. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- "Sierra Leone fans hail Kei Kamara debut". ESPN. Retrieved 12 February 2013.
- Martin Rogers, USA TODAY Sports (8 November 2014). "MLS players feel helpless watching homeland fight Ebola". USA TODAY. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Earthquakes trade for forward and a goalie". mercurynews.com. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Dynamo trade for forward Kamara". oursportscentral.com. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- "Dynamo trade Kamara to K.C.; forward 'unhappy'". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Wiebe, Andrew. "Rumor Central: Norwich reportedly interested in bringing Kamara to EPL". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- "Norwich make move for Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara". Sky Sports. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- Firchau, Nick. "Sporting KC's Kamara loaned out to EPL side Norwich City". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
- "KAMARA GRANTED VISA". Norwich City Football Club. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Hain-Cole, Al. "Norwich 0–0 Fulham: Canaries still searching for first league win since December". Goal.com. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
- Lalas, Greg. "HIGHLIGHT: Sporting KC's Kei Kamara scores to lead EPL's Norwich City to victory". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 23 February 2013.
- "Kei Kamara to rejoin Sporting Kansas City, eligible for selection in midweek game vs. Seattle". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Sporting KC loses Kei Kamara to Middlesbrough FC". kansascity.com. Retrieved 2 September 2013.
- Philip Tallentire (3 September 2013). "Boro bring in Jacob Butterfield and Kei Kamara". gazettelive. Retrieved 9 August 2015.
- Fajah Barrie, Mohamed. "Kei Kamara makes Middlesbrough debut". Sierra Leone Football Federation. Archived from the original on 25 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Nottm Forest 2 Middlesbrough 2". BBC. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- Vickers, Anthony. "Kei Kamara: Soccer Gods did not smile on Boro against Bournemouth". Gazette Live. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- "Kamara parts ways with Middlesbrough by mutual consent". Soccer By Ives. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
- Prescott, Jack. "Wolverhampton Wanderers end Kei Kamara interest". sportsmole.co.uk. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- Itel, Dan. "Kei Kamara leaving Middlesbrough, could be eyeing return to MLS and former club Sporting KC". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- "Crew signs forward Kei Kamara". Columbus Crew SC. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
- Laura Armstrong (25 October 2015). "Toronto FC's Giovinco wins MLS's Golden Boot award". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- "Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Giovinco, Kei Kamara contend for Landon Donovan MVP as MLS announces 2015 Awards finalists". MLS Soccer. 3 November 2015. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "Columbus Crew SC forward Kei Kamara named MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year". MLS Soccer. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- John Molinaro (2 December 2015). "TFC's Giovinco named Major League Soccer MVP". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
- "Columbus Crew beat Montreal Impact thanks to Kei Kamara winner". ESPN FC. 8 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
- Andrew King (22 November 2015). "Columbus Crew SC 2, New York Red Bulls 0 – MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Andrew King (29 November 2015). "Columbus Crew SC proud to host MLS Cup final: "Columbus deserves a championship"". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Andrew King (6 December 2015). "MLS Cup: Columbus Crew SC fans stayed behind to cheer on a dejected Kei Kamara". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Ben Crouch (6 December 2015). "Columbus Crew SC 1, Portland Timbers 2 – MLS Cup Match Recap". MLS Sosccer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- James Keep (7 December 2015). "Kick Off: Timbers win first MLS Cup – Valeri named MVP – Stadium site in Miami". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Andrew King (8 May 2016). "Kei Kamara blasts Crew SC teammate Federico Higuain after PK argument". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- Nicholas Rosano (12 May 2016). "New England Revolution acquire forward Kei Kamara from Columbus Crew SC". MLS Soccer. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
- Seth Macomber (30 June 2016). "Kei Kamara scores his first goal in a Revolution Jersey". Bent Musket. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
- "Whitecaps FC acquire two-time MLS all-star striker Kei Kamara". 10 December 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
- Motez Bishara (19 November 2015). "MLS: Scoring champ Kei Kamara escapes civil war, thrives with Crew". CNN. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- "Kei Kamara". Retrieved 27 January 2018.
- "Sierra Leone – K. Kamara – Profile with news, career statistics and history – Soccerway". us.soccerway.com. Retrieved 27 January 2018.
- "K. Kamara – Soccerway". Soccerway. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- "Kei Kamara, Wil Trapp & Michael Parkhurst react to Columbus Crew SC winning the Eastern Conference Championship – MLS Now". MLS Soccer. 30 November 2015. Retrieved 7 December 2015.
- Barrie, Mohamed Fajah. "Kei Kamara voted Sierra Leonean player of the year 2012". Sierra Leone Football. Archived from the original on 21 July 2015. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Sebastian Giovinco, Kei Kamara among 22 players named to 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game roster". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
- "Columbus Crew SC forward Kei Kamara named MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year". MLS. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
- "2015 MLS Best XI revealed: 10 first-time selections get the nod". Major League Soccer. Retrieved 29 November 2015.