Kei Kamara: "I'm 100 percent" with CF Montréal but "actively looking" elsewhere

Kei Kamara

After a career of being the ultimate MLS journeyman, Kei Kamara is looking for a permanent home, a place he can eventually retire.

The 38-year-old forward is still holding out hope CF Montréal is that place, even after taking to social media to request a trade last month.

"I’m here. I’m under contract. I will continue to honor my contract," Kamara told reporters at the Stade Olympique Tuesday, his first public comments since his trade request. "I love the city, man. If I went into the front office and asked them: I would love to retire a CF Montréal player, then that means I want to be here. But at the same time, I cannot force something that's not going to happen for me and my family."

Kamara, the third all-time leading scorer in MLS history, said he’s done bouncing from club to club. CF Montréal are Kamara’s ninth MLS team, starting with the Columbus Crew in 2006. His preference, he told reporters, is to plant his flag in Montréal, to move his family there. He was the club’s second-leading scorer a year ago (9g/7a in 1,551 minutes) behind Honduran international Romell Quioto, and the veteran hoped to land a long-term contract that would make Montréal the final stop in Kamara’s storied career.

CFMTL picked up his contract option after their record-breaking 2022 campaign and Kamara said he met with VP and chief sporting director Olivier Renard in October to discuss terms.

The offer, the former Sierra Leone international said, was a two-year deal and it was not open to negotiations.

"What they offered me was either I was going to take it or leave it," said Kamara, who originally signed in February 2022 after last competing for HIFK Fotboll in Finland. "Since it wasn’t good enough for me and my family to move here on, that's why we declined that offer."

Subsequent email exchanges between his agent and CF Montréal during the offseason yielded no progression, according to Kamara, which is why he said he went to social media to request a trade.

"It’s not hidden that we did approach the club after conversations where the contract didn't go forward to say, 'Ok if we’re not going to have a better contract for me and my family, I would like to move.' And they said, 'Yes ok, bring us something, then you guys can go,'" Kamara said.

Kamara, who has 139 goals in 391 regular-season matches, pledged he’s not a distraction and he’s not holding out. He fully intends to honor his contract for the 2023 season as Montréal start life under new manager Hernan Losada. This winter, Wilfried Nancy moved on to coach the Columbus Crew.

"I am here, I’m part of the team and when the coach calls me to play, I will play," Kamara said. “And that’s how I've approached it. From the first day I came in, to doing all the medicals, and all the testings I've been doing. I cleared everything and every day I show up and I’m ready to when they call me to say I’m going to be on the field and I’m going to play."

"Yes, we're actively looking for something," he added. "But at the same time, I'm 100 percent here."

Kamara, who didn’t participate in a recent intrasquad scrimmage, hopes to join CF Montréal in Florida for the next phase of preseason camp.

“I’m still here, like I keep saying and I’m still with the team, 100 percent positivity with the team and I’m going to continue to help for the goal of what we want to achieve as a team to go forward like we did last year," said Kamara, who is six goals behind Landon Donovan in the league’s all-time goals leaderboard (145).

A year ago, Montréal finished second in the Eastern Conference, but there’s been an exodus of key players. While DP midfielder Victor Wanyama is back, three linchpins – midfielder Djordje Mihailovic (to AZ Alkmaar in the Netherlands), midfielder Ismael Kone (to Watford FC in England) and defender Alistair Johnston (to Celtic FC in Scotland) – have all been transferred abroad. They also recently traded attacker Joaquín Torres to the Philadelphia Union.

Kamara’s preference is not to add to that upheaval as the clock eventually runs out on his playing career.

"I might not have that much longer to play anymore, but I want to know that where I’m playing, this is it. I’m going to finish here. … I don't want to pack boxes anymore," Kamara said. "I want to say, 'Ok this is it.'"