With Kei Kamara injured, Vancouver Whitecaps counting on Anthony Blondell

Anthony Blondell — Vancouver Whitecaps — March 10, 2018

VANCOUVER, B.C. — If you were wondering about the importance of Kei Kamara to the Vancouver Whitecaps this season, you got some good insight in their 2-0 home loss to LAFC on Friday night.

Kamara suffered an adductor strain in the closing moments of training on Thursday, forcing him to miss Friday's match. After an MRI, it was revealed the veteran striker will be out for at least the next three matches, with the home clash against the Houston Dynamo on May 11 his targeted return.

Kamara's absence was deeply felt in the 'Caps loss to LAFC. The veteran striker has been a locker room leader since joining the club in the offseason, and has been a key cog in their attack with three goals and two assists through his first five matches. Without him, Vancouver looked devoid of ideas and lacked creativity and any real goal threat.

"It’s a big loss," Whitecaps coach Carl Robinson admitted. "Any team that loses a key player, and he’s a key player for us, is going to be affected and we were affected on Friday. ... Losing Kei is a big blow, but we have to find solutions now to deal without him."

With the team suffering back-to-back defeats and blanked in their last two home matches, it's a hammer blow Vancouver could ill afford. Now, instead of continuing to build the team's attack around the 33-year-old, they're left scrambling with how to plug the hole his injury has left.

But it's not all bad news for the 'Caps.

Anthony Blondell was also forced to miss Friday's match due to a concussion he suffered the week before. But the Venezuelan striker has now been cleared to play again and should feature in Friday's trip to Sporting Kansas City (9 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info).

With Kei Kamara injured, Vancouver Whitecaps counting on Anthony Blondell - https://league-mp7static.mlsdigital.net/images/Vancouver_0.jpg?7I2YIY3oxm2VnFglKkEMBBTRyCfrHmZ3

Without Kei Kamara, several other players will need to step up for Vancouver. | USA Today Images

"We can sit and complain and moan and feel sorry for ourselves, or we can give Anthony a chance," Robinson said. "Anthony and Erik [Hurtado] will get a run of games now. It'll be good to see how they are. ... We look forward to it."

Standing at 6-foot-1, Blondell is just two inches shorter than Kamara. In theory, he's a similar big target man for Vancouver, but he likes to run with the ball at his feet. Does this mean we might see a different kind of playing style from the Whitecaps in the coming weeks?

"I wouldn't say different style," Robinson countered. "I would say different characteristics, the player Anthony is. He's a hard-working player. He likes to run in behind. [He’s] probably not as good at holding the ball up as Kei, but there's not many in this league that are."

Robinson describes Blondell as "raw" but after scoring a league-leading 24 goals for the Venezuelan Primera Division champions Monagas SC last year, he certainly knows his way around the net.

The 23-year-old netted three goals in the preseason for the Whitecaps but Robinson has wanted to ease him in slowly into his new surroundings, starting him in just one of his five MLS appearances to date. Blondell also linked up well with Yordy Reyna in the preseason, and with the Peruvian now back in the mix after a foot contusion, that is further good news for Vancouver.

But Robinson was keen to stress the goalscoring doesn't just rest with them. Everyone needs to play their part.

"Having Yordy back [helps]," Robinson feels. "Having the wide players stepping up. Brek Shea's got three goals in the early part of the season. …. They’ve all got to step up now, but we've always been like that."