JAMAICA, N.Y. – Kei Kamara was brought to the New England Revolution because of the impact he can make on a game. And when the forward came off the substitute’s bench in the 61st minute Wednesday night, with his team trailing by a goal, that’s just what he did.
He scored his first goal for the Revs, and also set up Teal Bunbury’s game-winner, as New England rallied to beat the New York Cosmos 3-2 in the fifth round of the U.S. Open Cup at St. John’s University’s Belson Stadium.
“The goal was great, but the reality is he really changed the game,” Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said of Kamara. “You could see the instant he came in, we got a lot better right away.”
Kamara’s goal, his first since arriving in New England on May 12 in a trade with the Columbus Crew, completely shifted momentum the Revs' way. It started with bad clearance by Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer. The ball came to Kamara, who ran at the Cosmos defense and tried to play the ball over to Bunbury, but it came back to him off a sliding tackle by Cosmos defender Roversio. Then he buried it.
“It doesn’t matter what game it is or how the goal comes, to finally get that first goal, it feels great,” Kamara said. “Not only just the goal, but a goal that gives us [the win] and moves us on to the next round in the Open Cup is good.”
Kamara then set up Bunbury’s second goal and the game-winner in the 83rd minute.
“You always want him to open his account and that was great, but in terms of Kei, he’s been awesome for us,” Heaps said. “We’ve won more games with him and he’s producing for us on the field by being a presence. I think that’s the most important thing. Now, when he starts adding the goals, I think we have another level to hit.”
After a lackluster performance in the league Saturday at D.C. United, Heaps lauded his squad’s play in a “character check.” Especially huge were the substitutes – besides Kamara, also Lee Nguyen and Zachary Herivaux.
“Our subs came in and really made some impactful plays,” Heaps said. “That’s what we’re looking for, our guys to gut it out and our key guys to come in and change the game.”