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Veteran striker Kei Kamara a threat for Chicago Fire, his 10th MLS team



Photo by Mike Dinovo - USA TODAY Sports

At 38 years old, Kei Kamara is still going strong, approaching 400 career appearances in MLS playing this season for a record 10th team in the league.

Tonight could mark his 18th appearance against the Union dating back to the inaugural season when he scored a goal for the Kansas City Wizards at a minor league baseball stadium then known as CommunityAmerica Ballpark.

The Sierra Leone international has 8 goals and 4 assists in 17 appearances against the Union all competitions. He’s logged 1,381 minutes for five different opponents (Wizards/Sporting Kansas City, Columbus Crew, New England Revolution, Vancouver Whitecaps and CF Montreal).

“He’s a guy that when he gets service in the box, he’s as dangerous as any goal scorer that our league has had,” Union head coach Jim Curtin said this week. “He’s very good in the air, comes to life when he gets the ball in the box, can create a goal for himself, has really good timing of his runs and his movement. He’s been a tough striker to manage against for a lot of years and a lot of different teams.”

Curtin was moving toward the latter part of his career when Kamara entered the league in 2006 with the Crew.

Seventeen years and 10 teams later, Kamara is enough of a threat that teams practice with him in mind. Curtin said this week they worked on defending crosses with Kamara and former Union striker Kacper Przybylko in mind. Fire star midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri’s name came up quite a bit in training too at Subaru Park on Friday.

Kamara’s relevance so late in his career is especially significant given how few players are still in the league from the Union’s inaugural season in 2010. None of the Philadelphia Union originals are active in MLS and just 10 other field players on MLS rosters this season played in the 2010 season.

Keeping a clean sheet will be the goal for a Union team that is in the midst of their second Sunday-Tuesday turn of games. Unlike last week when they failed to score against Inter Miami and Alianza FC in Champions League play, both games will be home, where the Union have been practically unbeatable.

“It obviously starts with Shaqiri and doing a good job limiting him where he touches the ball,” Curtin said.

The Union beat the Fire 4-1 at home last season and are riding a 24-game MLS home unbeaten streak, dating back to September 3, 2021.

The Union’s 24-game streak matches Sporting Kansas City (2016-2017) as the third longest home unbeaten streak in MLS history. Only Real Salt Lake (29) and Houston (30) have recorded longer home unbeaten streaks. The Houston Dynamo achieved the feat a decade ago.

“I think we’ll have a good response after the loss to Miami from the group,” Curtin said.

Tonight’s game kicks off at 7:39 p.m. and will be behind the MLS Season Pass paywall on Apple TV.

Matthew Ralph is the managing editor of Philadelphia Soccer Now / Brotherly Game. He's covered soccer at all levels for many years in the Philadelphia region and has also written for, NPSL, PrepSoccer and other publications. He lives with his wife and two young children in Broomall, Pa., but grew up in South Jersey and is originally from Kansas.

Copyright © 2024 Philadelphia Soccer Now and Brotherly Game

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