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Heavy-hearted Kamara moves on after Sierra Leone ouster

Kei Kamara, New York lookahead

Photo Credit: 
Getty Images

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – His country's run in the Africa Cup of Nations is over. But with Sporting Kansas City close to clinching a second straight finish atop the Eastern Conference, their leading scorer has to set aside his disappointment – and any lingering fatigue from his latest overseas trip.

Sporting travel to New York on Saturday to face a Red Bulls team fighting for their playoff future (7 pm ET, watch LIVE online), and Kamara plans to be on the pitch for the opening whistle.

“I know I'll be ready by the weekend, but I got a little winded running out here today,” Kamara told MLSsoccer.com after Thursday's training session. “But it's the point of the season where everyone's running on adrenaline, more than anything else. I know I'll be ready come game time.”

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Kamara went the full 90 for Sierra Leone in last Saturday's scoreless draw in Tunisia, which knocked the Leone Stars out of contention for the continental tournament. The home-and-home series finished 2-2 on aggregate, with Tunisia advancing on away goals.

Sierra Leone had two goals disallowed in the second leg, one of those when Kamara was ruled offside, and had to play the last 65 minutes a man down.

“I wish I could change some stuff and play that game all over again,” Kamara said, “but that's not going to happen.”

Instead, Kamara will concentrate on helping his club extend their season-long 10-match unbeaten streak – and, just maybe, sew up home-field advantage through the conference playoffs.

Sporting would lock up the East’s top spot if they win at New York on Saturday and Chicago lose or draw at New England. A draw would also clinch the No.1 seed for Sporting if the Revs upset the Fire.

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“We've been doing really well,” said Kamara, who scored his team-leading 11th goal when Sporting defeated the Red Bulls 2-0 on Sept. 19 – New York's first home loss of the year. “The results have been really good for us. There's nothing we want to change from it. I just want to stay focused.”

And while acknowledging the differences between playing for his club and carrying the hopes of a soccer-mad country, Kamara said the basic goal remains the same.

“Every game, everywhere you play, no matter where it is, you're still trying to do well,” he said. “Being out there, it's different: a different continent, playing in a different situation. But when it comes down to it, all you want to do is just win.”

Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.