Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara has 'no love' for Columbus - InfoNews

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Vancouver Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara has 'no love' for Columbus

Vancouver Whitecaps' Kei Kamara, back left, Cristian Techera, front, and Alphonso Davies celebrate Davies' goal against the Montreal Impact during the second half of an MLS soccer game in Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday March 4, 2018. Kamara has some history in Columbus. Maybe that's why he was sending mixed messages about his return to Mapfre Stadium when the Vancouver Whitecaps try to hand the Columbus Crew their first defeat of the Major Soccer League season Saturday.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
March 30, 2018 - 11:13 AM

VANCOUVER - Striker Kei Kamara has some history in Columbus. Maybe that's why he was sending mixed messages about his return to Mapfre Stadium when the Vancouver Whitecaps try to hand the Columbus Crew their first defeat of the Major Soccer League season Saturday.

"No, no love for Columbus," Karama said after a training session this week. "Definitely no love. I'm excited to go back and play there. There's a lot of history."

Kamara, who joined the Whitecaps in the off-season, had two stints in Columbus. He was selected ninth in the 2006 SuperDraft and played two seasons with the Crew before being traded to San Jose in 2008. He returned to Columbus in 2015 but had a messy exit.

In a 2016 game against Montreal, Columbus was leading 3-1 in a match where Kamara had scored twice. When the Crew were awarded a penalty kick, Kamara — who was looking for the hat trick — and teammate Federico Higuain become involved in an on-field dispute over who would take the shot.

Higuain, the team's designated penalty taker, eventually scored on the play but Montreal would rebound for a 4-4 draw.

After the game Kamara criticized Higuain, calling him selfish and saying he wasn't a teammate. The crew suspended Kamara for his remarks and then traded him to New England.

Kamara, who heard some boos when he played in Columbus last year, said he has nothing to prove this weekend.

"Not at all," said the 33-year-old, who has played on seven teams over his 11 years in MLS. "It's been a couple of seasons.

"This is a new season. I don't have to prove anything over there. Getting a win over there will be great."

Kamara has spoken with Higuain since the incident.

"We took time to talk," he said. "We're teammates, no matter what happened in the past.

"MLS is one big family. No matter what happens between you and players, you are going to see each other again."

Kamara leads Vancouver with two goals and an assist in three games. He also collected his 100th MLS regular season goal in a win over Houston.

Besides the personal overtones, the Vancouver-Columbus matchup features two of the league's better teams. The Crew (3-0-1) lead the Eastern Conference while Vancouver (2-1-1) is second in the West.

The Whitecaps opened the season with two wins before dropping a 4-1 decision in Atlanta. Last week at BC Place Stadium they failed to score in a 0-0 draw against an undermanned L.A. Galaxy team.

Scoring hasn't been a problem for Columbus. Entering weekend play, the Crew have eight goals. Only Kansas City has more with nine.

Vancouver head coach Carl Robinson said an attacking offence can be a double-edged sword.

"Sometimes your strength can be your weakness," he said. "They play a certain way and they are pretty open in their play. When they have the ball they are very good. When they don't have the ball they are vulnerable to transition at certain times.

"We have to make sure that the shape of our team is compact, (that) we are nice and organized (and) we don't have too many gaps appear because they have key players in key areas. We also believe we can take advantage of their weakness. Because of their expansive play, they do leave themselves a little bit vulnerable."

This will be Vancouver's third trip East in four weeks. Robinson said the jury is out on whether it's best to get the long road trips done early in the season.

"Leave it to the end, you're fighting for points and playoffs are in sight (so) it becomes a little bit scary," he said. "If you do it early in the season, then you risk getting points on the board.

"You just have to take it as it is."

The Whitecaps will have captain Kendal Waston back in the lineup after the big defender missed last week's game due to Costa Rican national team commitments. Midfielder Aly Ghazal, who has been recovering from a pre-season hamstring strain, is also close to returning.

Columbus centre back Josh Williams, who returned last week from a heel injury, said the Crew must be prepared to defend against the Whitecaps' crosses.

"They have some good targets," Williams said on the Crew's website. "We don't want to get too stretched.

"They have a guy like Waston and a couple speedy wingers. Communication is important."

Despite doing well in the standings, the Crew are dealing with the off-field distraction of owner Anthony Precourt wanting to move the franchise to Austin, Texas. State and city officials have gone to court in an effort to prevent the move.

Kamara was asked for his reaction to the potential move.

"If I was the commissioner I'd probably move them to Vegas," he said with a smile.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2018
The Canadian Press

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