Kei Kamara is the Al MacInnis of MLS, and His Team Is On the Rise

They don’t have a skills competition at the MLS All-Star Game, but if they did, we’d put money on 26-year-old Sierra Leone international Kei Kamara to win the Hardest Shot contest. His shot is anvil-heavy, and all he needs is a sliver of space to get it off. Case in point, versus DC United on Sunday:

That was Kamara’s seventh goal of the year (in 22 appearances) and he and his team are peaking at the right time. After a miserable 1-6-9 road trip to start the season, Sporting Kansas City opened their state-of-the-art new stadium, Livestrong Park, on June 9, and reeled off a 14-game unbeaten streak. That run was broken by a stomach-punch loss to Seattle on Aug 6, but SKC has bounced back with two wins in a row since then, cruising past Portland 3-1 two weeks ago and dropping DC this past Sunday on Kamara’s strike. They’re currently 9-7-9 and in second place in the East.

In addition to the 6-3, 185-pound Kamara, SKC lines up Mexican star Omar Bravo, U.S. international Teal Bunbury, and our pick for 2011 Rookie of the Year, CJ Sapong (who has a U.S. national team call-up in his future if he keeps progressing).

Coach Peter Vermes threw all four of them at DC on Sunday, and despite the presence of (essentially) four strikers, and attacking midfielder Graham Zusi (five goals, four assists this year, and, according to Mrs. BP, not unpleasant to look at), his team was still solid defensively: they got a shutout, and they surrendered just a couple of clear chances. (Kansas City lines up the pedigreed Julio Cesar at centerback, with solid Americans Seth Sinovic, Matt Besler, and Chance Myers following his lead on the backline.)

SKC also has more home games remaining (7 out of 9) than any other team in the league. You have to like their chances heading down the stretch. Judging by this clip from after the DC game, they do too:

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