Kei Kamara loves Kansas City, and Kansas City loves Kei Kamara - Jamie Squire
Kei Kamara transcended simply being a soccer player while in Kansas City; the Midwestern town is just as much a part of him as he is the town now.
All signs point to Sporting Kansas City forward Kei Kamara's rumored and impending transfer to Norwich City being that of a short-term loan deal. The English Premier League club will likely obtain the 28-year old Sierra Leone forward on a loan agreement lasting until mid-May, which will signal the end of the current Premier League season. Kamara will miss roughly Sporting KC's first dozen games of the 2013 season.
While rumors are still yet unconfirmed, in this particular situation, it's safe to say that where there's smoke, there's certainly a great deal of fire to be found at its root. Kamara is coming of the best season of his professional career, three years running, each one only bested by the one that followed the last. Kamara scored 30 goals over the last three seasons - all from his newfound right wing position, mind you - and created 18 more for teammates through assists. 2012 was the pick of the litter, though, with Kamara setting career highs in goals (11) and assists (8).
Quite simply, Kei Kamara has become one of the most dangerous attacking players MLS has to offer. And for that, he owes many thanks to his head coach since arriving in Kansas City, Peter Vermes. Kamara had zero desire to play for the then-Wizards when Vermes traded for him in September 2009, and no one could blame him for it. But it was Vermes who believed he could be the one to harness all the potential Kamara possessed and turn it into many fruitful performances on the field. Vermes convinced Kamara to come to Kansas City, and it couldn't have turned out better for all parties involved.
Kamara's tumultuous time with Houston Dynamo had come to an end late in the 2009 season, and here was this 25-year old, freakishly gifted, athletic specimen of a man standing 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, who was set to join his fourth professional team in four years. The ability to literally jump over defenders was always evident. The ability to blow by a majority of the league's centerbacks was always there. The ability to to turn a game on its head at a moment's notice was always a possibility.
But turning those abilities into performances was always so far in between that each team saw Kamara as surplus to requirements, and so he was sent packing.
In Kansas City, it is no stretch of the truth to say that Kamara's life was changed. Not only is he a wildly successful footballer on the verge of fulfilling what is no doubt a life-long dream to play in the world's pinnacle league, but Kamara found peace - quite literally after fleeing Sierra Leone as a refugee during his teenage years - and an entire city that not only appreciated his effort and achievements on the soccer field, but also fell in love with his infectious happiness, and appreciation for life and every blessing ever bestowed upon him.
In every way possible, Kansas City has been a safe haven for Kei Kamara; a place that has given him something he probably never felt he would have - a life full of stability and bliss. So why, after searching so long and working so hard to obtain that life that came never easy to him, and finding each of those things right here in Kansas City, would Kamara up and jettison himself halfway across the world to play for a team he's connected to in no way and a city he's never been?
Only Kamara himself will know the truest answer to that question deep down in his heart.
But these are the facts: Kansas City will always be right where Kamara left it, anxiously awaiting the return of one of its brightest soccer stars, and greatest people. When an opportunity at the highest level comes calling, you must answer it; just ask former Sporting KC star Roger Espinoza who moved to Wigan Athletic on a free transfer in January and set up both goals in his new club's 2-2 draw at Stoke City on Tuesday.
When the time is right, the time is right. This is Kei Kamara's time to shine brighter than ever before. There are no longer doubts about what he can do in MLS. At 28 years old, it's now or never for Kei Kamara's European footballing dream. And he should, with his usual joyfulness and fervor, reach out and grab hold of it with both hands.
And, if you've fallen head over heels for Kei Kamara, the human being, over the last three-and-a-half years, you should be beyond ecstatic for the man. Furthermore, on the outside chance that he does, if Kamara impresses during his three months with the Canaries, and 'short-term' becomes something permanent, nothing will ever take away the things Kei Kamara did for Kansas City, and the innumerable things Kansas City did for Kei Kamara.