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Kei Kamara to leave Vancouver Whitecaps

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Kei Kamara (23) reacts during the second half against Los Angeles Galaxy at BC Place. (Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports)

It has been a busy couple days for the Vancouver Whitecaps. On Sunday the club announced four trades and then on Monday confirmed the signing of Andy Rose and also released their protected player list ahead of the 2018 MLS Expansion Draft

The club also confirmed on Monday that striker Kei Kamara would not be returning for the 2019 season. Kamara has opted out of free agency and opted into Friday’s MLS Re-Entry Draft. He is also eligible to be selected in the Expansion Draft Tuesday by FC Cincinnati.

“Kei was an important part of the team last year, and we’re thankful for his time at the club,” said head coach Marc Dos Santos. “We evaluated what we want in this position for next season, while also keeping in mind the medium and long-term. We are looking for characteristics that are very specific as a whole. We wish Kei all the best.”

In his introductory press conference Monday, Dos Santos was clear he would not be afraid to make tough decision to improve the squad in the long-term.

“It is a situation that we are assessing and taking [everything] under consideration. But our decision is always going to be towards what we want to be not in one year only, not in six months, but what do we want to look like in one year, two years consecutive moving forward,” Dos Santos explained when asked about Kamara’s future at the club on Nov. 26.

Now two weeks later that assessment has concluded that it would be better for the player and the club to go separate ways. 

Kamara, who earned a team-high $1million last season, was also the club’s top scorer with 14 goals and five assists in 28 games. 

Although his scoring rate of 0.49 goals per game last season is decent for a striker, the 34-year-old forward averaged only 54.63 actions per game for the Whitecaps and completed just 50.5% of them successfully. Not enough for Dos Santos, who has been clear in his statements that he is looking for players who can be multi-dimensional for the Whitecaps going forward.

“We’re looking at the big picture. Sometimes there are tough decisions when you’re building a new team. This is a new direction we’re going. We’re looking at the medium and the long-term,” Dos Santos said.  “We’re looking at a lot of different players. We’re confident we’ll bring in the right ones here. I see that forward coming from outside the league,” Dos Santos said when asked on how the club is planning to replace Kamara. 

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