Ola Kamara

OBETZ, Ohio – Columbus Crew SC striker Ola Kamara is back to work preparing for the biggest games of his MLS career against Toronto FC in the Eastern Conference Championship. But for a few days during the international break, Kamara took a break from Toronto preparation to make his first appearance for the Norwegian national team since 2014.

Kamara had been outspoken about his national team snubs, citing his MLS goal-scoring tally – 35 goals in the MLS regular season and postseason across two years – and Norway’s struggles, and often wondering what more he had to do to earn his return.

His chance came last week in a pair of friendlies for Norway, and Kamara got a start and a substitute appearance in his return. And while a pair of losses to Macedonia and Slovakia were “disappointing,” the Columbus striker said he was thrilled to be back.

“It was fantastic to be back and see the guys and play with my national team again,” he said at Columbus training Friday. “It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Kamara said he and his teammates “got slaughtered in the media” thanks to the pair of results, which was an adjustment for him. But he said his spirits are high regardless.

“I got a lot of positive energy out of that,” he said. “For me, I’ll take that out of [the experience]. I’m in there again and I’m competing for that spot. So it’s a good thing for me.”

But as a striker, Kamara can’t shake the disappointment of not scoring. He said he didn’t get any feedback on his performances from the coaching staff, but was critical of his own lack of goals.

“I think they kind of liked a little bit about what they saw,” he said. “Of course, I think they wanted a goal out of it. For me, that was the disappointing thing. I wanted to come and show that I was a goalscorer. I got some chances and I was maybe the most dangerous striker, but I didn’t score. So I’m happy, but a little disappointed too.”

Crew SC boss Gregg Berhalter said that while rest would have been ideal for Kamara before the Toronto clash, he was happy for the striker to get the chance he’s been looking for.

“It’s a good opportunity for him,” Berhalter said. “For him, it was a long time coming and it was great for him to be able to get back into the fold.”

Kamara admitted he was a bit sore, but the wave he’s riding from his team’s playoff run and a return to the Norway picture means he’s got very few complaints.

“I’m getting a lot of positive energy these days,” he said. “From two big games going back to the national team with the opportunity to maybe play in an MLS [Cup] Final too, if you’re not happy and not positive now, you’re never going to be.”