Let’s face it, the Camilo saga is still a lingering and unpleasant memory for many Whitecaps fans.
After winning Major League Soccer’s Golden Boot Award for scoring the most goals in 2013, the Brazilian bolted for Mexico leaving rookie manager Carl Robinson with the near impossible task of replacing a 20-goal scorer just days after taking control of the club.
Try as he might, Robinson has never found a player to replace Camilo’s goal scoring production. Goals by committee has been the theme for the past several years, and only Fredy Montero has come close to Camilo’s record after tallying a respectable 13 goals last season.
Montero, who spent the year on loan with Vancouver in 2017, was a key player in the Whitecaps attack. With Montero leading the line, the Caps finished third in the Western Conference, but were unceremoniously bounced out of the playoffs by arch rivals Seattle.
Soccerheads are likely aware of this but Fredy Montero has reportedly signed a multi-year deal with his old club in Portugal, One-year stint with Whitecaps was a qualified success.
— Ed Willes (@willesonsports) January 17, 2018
It was bitter pill for the Caps’ brass to swallow, who then proceeded to make wholesale changes to the team’s core over the winter months.
Not only was Montero not brought back for a second season, but other key players including goalkeeper David Ousted, midfielder Matías Laba, and winger Christian Bolaños were all sent packing.
The big time roster rebuild by the Whitecaps speaks volumes. This is a team where making the playoffs is no longer just good enough. This is a team that wants to make a serious run at winning MLS Cup.
Enter Kei Kamara.
The 33-year-old Sierra Leonean joined the Whitecaps just before Christmas, and the accomplished striker has added a deadly dimension to Vancouver’s attack.
“He’s got the attributes that I want,” said Robinson recently. “We firmly believe that Kei can lead this team into exciting times this year.”
Thank you for your generosity @whitecapsfc. The presentation of my 💯 Goals will forever be a part of the Kamara family. No other place I would have wanted this to take place 🙏🇸🇱. #HeartShapedHands #VWFC #100 pic.twitter.com/QzfAYOSNFY
— KEI KAMARA (@keikamara) March 28, 2018
Robinson has good reason to be excited with Kamara in his lineup. The big striker is 10th all-time in MLS scoring, and second among active players. Kamara finished runner up in the 2015 scoring race, losing out to Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco on a tiebreaker.
“He’s a big body, and he thrives off crosses. Most importantly, he’s a good character and he’s driven to win,” added Robinson.
So far this season, Kamara has delivered the goods when called upon, scoring three times in four matches.
It’s nothing new. In fact, throughout his entire career in MLS and in England Kamara has done nothing but score goals, and he has recorded 10 or more goals in the past three seasons.
Provided that Kamara is not left totally isolated up top, then it’s conceivable that he could reach double digits again this season.
Excitingly for Whitecaps fans, Kamara has connected well with teammate Alphonso Davies, and the pair have proven to be a handful for their opponents through the first month of the new season.
.@keikamara‘s world-class header is up for MLS Goal of the Week!
— Vancouver Whitecaps (@WhitecapsFC) March 7, 2018
“Hopefully I can play a lot more because I’m not done yet,” said Kamara after the Caps’ season opener. “I’m only playing for one reason, and that hasn’t happened yet.”
Whitecaps fans will certainly hope that the goals will keep coming for Kamara, because if they do then perhaps that long awaited playoff run may actually not be so far-fetched after all.