LOS ANGELES — New Colorado Rapids forward Kei Kamara mostly accepts the surprises that come with playing in MLS.
The journeyman forward is playing for his fourth MLS team since 2016. He said he was sure he’d be coming back to the Vancouver Whitecaps, but he was left unprotected in the MLS Expansion Draft, selected No. 2 by FC Cincinnati and then traded to the Colorado Rapids.
He’s still shocked the Whitecaps and new head coach Marc Dos Santos were willing to part with him after a 14-goal, six-assist 2018 season with the Whitecaps.
“Since [2006,] I’ve played for a few different clubs,” he said. “You know, I’ve always wanted to win a championship, for sure, and I’m still going to win a championship. So when I was at Vancouver, I gave it my all. I gave it my all on and off the field. I wanted to make sure that I was going to be, you know, that I was going to be sitting in one place and play there for a few years.
“It’s a club that I really liked. I loved it. The city’s amazing, the fans are really good. I took off to my offseason with a positive mindset even though the coach that brought me in had been let go earlier. But I definitely took off to the offseason [with] a positive mindset.
“It was one of the first time I guaranteed myself that I would go back to the same club.”
Kamara, 34, said getting the phone call that he wasn’t going back to Vancouver was a surprise. He did say trades are the “toughest part” of playing in MLS.
“It’s part of it,” he said. “It’s the league. It’s the nature of the league and as players we have to accept it. When a team like Colorado comes calling and preaches to me the game plan and what they want to do going forward, I looked at it, I asked my family and it was a no-brainer.
“I spoke to [Rapids coach] Anthony [Hudson]. Such a great guy as a coach. When he just told me what he wanted to do, I said I’m on board. So we made it happen.”
He added Hudson told him his role will be to score goals.
Kamara said he spent some time in his home country of Sierra Leone during the offseason. He also attended the funeral service of MLS coaching legend Sigi Schmid, the coach who drafted him.
Kamara isn’t the only big addition the Rapids have made in the offseason. Colorado, a team that finished second-to-last in the Western Conference last season, also traded for Diego Rubio (eight goals last season for Sporting KC) and Nicolás Mezquida (three goals for the Whitecaps). The Rapids also signed midfielder Benny Feilhaber to a one-year deal.
“So far so good,” Kamara said.
“That’s a club that’s looking to do something. You don’t really see much of teams being that active in the offseason as much as we’ve been doing it. Hopefully we can bring something together during the preseason.”