With 133 goals, Kei Kamara is the fourth top scorer in MLS, tied with Jaime Moreno. And when you look at his story, you think he worked hard to become an MLS legend.
The striker who joined CF Montreal over the winter arrived in the United States in the early 2000s, after spending two years in The Gambia as civil war raged in Sierra Leone, from where he is native.
“My mother left when I was six and I joined her when I was 16. »
The family settled in Hawthorne, a suburb of Los Angeles. It’s not an easy environment, but it will define the man that Kamara will become.
Leaving Africa to settle in California when you are 16 is not easy, and Kamara confirms it.
“It was difficult to adapt, especially at school. I made friends, but I was bullied because I was African and had an accent. »
Also, the situation in Sierra Leone caused him to miss a lot of school, so he had to catch up. The context was therefore not ideal and it was through sport that he got out of trouble and began to integrate.
“As I was bullied, I often found myself in battles and that’s when I started to get involved in the sport. I played volleyball, I do track and field and cross country and it was in my last two years of high school that I really started playing soccer even though I had played in Sierra Leone. »
Close to the pros
Kamara’s story seems almost straight out of a movie script. After all, he lived it about twenty kilometers from Hollywood.
“When I was young, I worked at the Marriott in Torrance where all the MLS teams were staying. »
Because it should be noted that Hawthorne and Torrance are located a few kilometers from Carson, where the Los Angeles Galaxy stadium is located.
After graduating from high school, he was accepted into Dominguez Hills State University. This one is located in Carson and what is there in the middle of the sports facilities on campus? The Galaxy Stadium which then bears the name of Home Depot Stadium.
He then finds himself in a second division soccer program and he knows that it is difficult to reach MLS when you are not playing in the best division of the NCAA.
His choice is not insignificant since he then lands a job at the Home Depot Center.
He therefore had the opportunity to be noticed by Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid, who sometimes invited him to train with the team. Chivas USA was also playing at the same place and Bob Bradley offered the same kind of invitation to Kamara.
It was a dream that kept Kei Kamara hanging on to school and the hope of turning professional.
“I saw the Home Depot Center every day and the young players training and I thought I could do it. I’m glad I got this goal. »
Kamara was eventually drafted in the first round, ninth overall, by the Columbus Crew in 2006. And who was the Crew’s new head coach that year? Sigi Schmid.
Like what the sympathetic striker was due to play under the orders of the one who gave him a place when he was still a young man who was starting to dream.