Kei Kamara - Vancouver Whitecaps - Points
USA Today Images

Kei Kamara focuses on making playoffs, hopes to extend stay in Vancouver

Kei Kamara's professional soccer career has been a bit nomadic, but he's proven one constant in eight different jerseys during his professional career: He scores goals. 

Kamara has taken soccer's most valuable trait with him to Vancouver, where he's had a successful first season with the Whitecaps. He leads the team with 14 goals and couldn't be happier with his situation.

"I'm at the end of my contract here in Vancouver, but it's one of the best teams I've played for, one of the best cities I've lived in," Kamara told MLSsoccer.com. "It's difficult right now that we don't have a permanent coach to know what the situation is for me going forward. For me, I feel like I've done my due here. I'm not looking to that. Obviously whatever happens will happen, I love it here."

What Kamara is looking forward to is the task at hand, and the Whitecaps still have it all to play for this season. Despite losing three of their last four games, the Whitecaps are within touching distance of the Western Conference's final playoff spot with just a few games left. They host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday (10:30 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & Streaming info) and a win would see them draw level with Real Salt Lake in sixth place with two games left in the season.

"I believe we can do it," Kamara said without hesitation. "The game against Kansas City is obviously our final. It doesn't matter what happens to the other side of the table. ... If we can handle that game, it doesn't matter what the other results are, then we'll be really happy going into our last two games of the season."

Self-belief in the locker room hasn't wavered all season through the ups and downs that included a coaching change just two games prior, as the 'Caps parted ways with Carl Robinson and appointed Academy technical director Craig Dalrymple in charge for the rest of the season. 

"It's been like that for us for the past 10 games, being really close to the line," Kamara said. "It's always felt like we could be right above that line, even after the coaching change and the results, it's like 'wow, we're right there. We can make this happen.' ... After the Galaxy loss, the belief was still there. It was one of those that we just dropped. The way all of the other results were still going, was one of those to tell you 'hey, there's still a chance we can make it happen.'"

After SKC, the schedule doesn't get any easier. They play at LAFC on Sunday (5 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & Streaming info) and then host Portland on Decision Day, presented by AT&T, two teams bound for the playoffs. They have an uphill battle that they're not going to back down from as Kamara is embracing a role that includes not just helping his teammates on the field, but off of it as well.

"It's a really competitive group. It's a young team, being the oldest guy in the locker room, which is a shame to say, I do feel proud of that," the 34-year-old said. "I come in every day and continue to help the players, help everybody achieve something, and right now that's the playoffs. That's what we want to achieve."

Despite being the oldest on the team, Kamara has played the fourth-most minutes. The way he plays, and moves, it's easy to assume he's still in his 20's.

"It's kind of weird knowing that I'm over 100 goals, but I really didn't score many goals before," Kamara said while laughing. "I'm 34, I'm playing, the way I'm moving around and seeing the game a lot better than before, and appreciating every single player on the squad. Every single player connects something to make me score goals."

Despite having scored 112 goals in his MLS career, and being tied for seventh in goals this season, Kamara still rues the ones he didn't score.

"I feel ashamed to not be scoring more, I should be in the 20s at the moment," Kamara lamented. "I missed a couple key chances, and maybe those are a couple key chances that hurt us. But goals really aren't my drive, my drive is the playoffs and championships."

Regardless of what happens over the team's final three regular season games, Kamara hopes to be back in Vancouver.

"Team-wise, this is seriously one of the best group of guys, togetherness, that I've seen," Kamara said. "When Robbo was here, the guys that he put together, he did it well. A lot of guys really like each other off the field. When you do have that, it really brings a different chemistry when you're on the field. The city is a beautiful city and it puts this happiness into players, all of that does help."