Whitecaps striker Kei Kamara to play 300th MLS game when Houston hosts Vancouver
|Report an Error|
Share via Email
VANCOUVER — Striker Kei Kamara is scheduled to play his 300th Major League Soccer game Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps travel to face the Houston Dynamo at BBVA Compass Stadium.
So, what's the recipe for Kamara's longevity? Proper nutrition? Good physical conditioning?
"They call me old for a reason," the 33-year-old said after a training session this week at the Whitecaps facility on the UBC campus.
Kamara came to Vancouver in December in a trade from the New England Revolution. In an 11-year MLS career he's suited up in 287 regular-season games and 12 in the playoffs. He's dressed for seven teams, including the Columbus Crew twice. He's a two-time MLS all-star and a finalist for the most valuable player award but has never won a championship.
"I can play a lot more games," said the Sierra Leone native. "I'm not done yet.
"I want to keep playing and I want to keep getting wins. I'm only playing for one reason and that hasn't happened yet."
Kamara can also score his 100th regular-season MLS goal against the Dynamo, a team he spent two seasons with. He would become the 10th player in league history to record 100 or more goals.
"It's always good to play against an old team," joked Kamara. "For me, that's the whole MLS.
"Having 100 goals in the regular season is definitely a big milestone I'd love to get to."
Kamara's 99th goal came in the Whitecaps' season-opening 2-1 win against the Montreal Impact last weekend.
"As a striker, when you join a team, you want to get that first goal out of the way," he said. "It was an important goal. I'm glad I was able to get it."
Felipe Martins, who Vancouver acquired in a March trade, played against Kamara when the Brazilian midfielder was a member of the New York Red Bulls and Montreal.
"It's much better to have him as a teammate than an opponent," said Martins. "Kei is a proven player.
"He knows how to take care of himself. The great thing about Kei is his personality, the energy every day he brings to the locker room."
Kamara said it's important to share his experience.
"Be a sponge," he said. "Absorb a lot and squeeze it out when it's time.
"Hopefully I'm able to translate some of that to the guys around me who have only played five or six games."
The Whitecaps were comfortable on the road last year, leading the Western Conference with a 6-9-2 record away from BC Place. The Dynamo Houston topped the West with a 12-1-4 home record.
Houston hasn't been a friendly destination for the Whitecaps. Vancouver has never won there, going 0-4-1. The Dynamo also opened the season with a convincing 4-0 victory over Atlanta United.
"They were excellent," said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson. "They are a dangerous team we know that.
"We've got to go there with a game plan. We know we can create chances and cause them problems. We've got to also be aware of what they are good at."
Vancouver controlled most of its opening game against Montreal and led 2-0 late in the game.
While generally pleased with his team's performance Robinson wasn't happy about allowing a late goal, then giving the Impact a chance to tie the match a few minutes later.
"We gave away an unnecessary goal at the point of the game when the game was dead," he said.
"When you concede (a goal) you have to make sure mentally you are strong."
The Whitecaps spent the offseason retooling their roster, adding depth at most positions. Robinson has said he now has the luxury to juggle his lineup depending on the strength of the opposition.
There may be some tinkering for the Dynamo.
"There will possibly be a couple of changes," Robinson said. "It's no disrespect to the players that played on Sunday because they put in some positive performances.
"The reason I carry a strong squad is for certain reasons. Against different personnel there are better matchups I believe."
The Dynamo gained confidence from their dominating opening-day win but know the Whitecaps present a new challenge.
"It's a long season," forward Andrew Wenger told the Dynamo website. "I don't think it's so much about one game, but to continue approaching the game in the proper way."
Defender Adolfo Machado said the team needs to improve its movement off the ball and reduce breakdowns.
"Each day we come and work hard, aiming to get better for every game," he said. "We don't want to get comfortable. We are focusing on what we want and the objective we have going forward."
Kamara said winning in Houston won't be easy.
"It's going to be a battle," he said. "We are going to go into their house and try to disrupt what they are doing."
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said it was Kei Kamara's 300th MLS regular-season game