COLUMBUS, Ohio – When Kei Kamara returned to MAPFRE Stadium for the first time since his high-profile trade from Columbus Crew SC to the New England Revolution in May, he expected an appreciative response from fans who got to watch the team play in an MLS Cup Final at home in large part thanks to his 22 goals last season.
But instead, every time Kamara touched the ball in the Revolution’s 2-0 loss in Columbus Sunday night, he heard “all boos.”
“I was shocked,” he said after the match. “Come on. You make so many sacrifices for an organization to really boost it. But hey, if I can bring some life to the stadium for once in the season, why not?”
Kamara has never been shy about the chip on his shoulder, and said the booing just amped him up even more, taking the opportunity for a shot at Columbus fans, who packed the house on Sunday with a sellout crowd of 20,012 in attendance.
“That’s how I play,” he said of using the jeers to his motivation. “I get boos in stadiums that are bigger than that – Seattle, Portland, those places.”
But as he heard the crowd’s reaction to his presence, he couldn’t help but feel betrayed.
“It hurts to feel something like that,” he said. “The first day I stepped into this club here, I did a lot of things for the people. They say, ‘For Columbus,’ ‘Us,’ and that’s what I did. So to feel like you’re not ‘us’ and the sacrifices that you made to help build something into a fortress to take it to the top, which we did last season, and to get a reception like that shows it all.”
The two clubs had already played twice before Sunday's match with Kamara donning blue instead of gold, but the Columbus trip was the first time Kamara had returned to the Crew SC fans.
He said it was “definitely” an emotional day for him, but one that ended with a certain amount of closure.
“It wasn’t something I asked for, to move,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it a lot. It’s been tough. It’s been really, really tough. But after today, I got the final answer to everything. It’s time to move on.”
Now, he’ll be a little less conflicted.
“It’s time to move on,” he said with a smile. “I’m happy where I am now and I wish [Columbus] the best of luck.”