It took five years, but Wizards forward Kei Kamara finally scored a goal in front of his hometown crowd.
And what a goal it was. Not only was Kamara’s goal, which came in the 70th minute of the Wizards’ game against Chivas USA on Sunday, a highlight reel effort — more on that later — it also broke a scoreless tie and gave the resurgent Wizards a 2-0 road victory at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., that moved them even closer to a playoff spot.
“Getting a goal then, when they were throwing numbers at us, helped us break them,” said Wizards coach Peter Vermes, whose team improved to 8-9-6 and won on the road against Chivas for the first time in club history. “It was obviously very good timing.”
With the victory, the Wizards — who were just 3-8-3 two months ago and appeared to be dead in the water — remain just six points out of a playoff berth with seven games remaining.
And while Kamara was absolutely the hero, he got a big assist from defender Michael Harrington, who served the ball into the area for Kamara, who then headed it to himself in front of the goal and poked it into the corner of the net with a gorgeous sliding finish.
Kamara said the goal was vaguely reminiscent of one scored by one of his favorite players, Roger Milla of Cameroon, in a World Cup match. Ironically enough, Kamara said he had been recently been watching of the goal, so he was able to do the same dance Milla did after his, as well.
“I can’t believe I did it,” said Kamara, who attended nearby Cal-State Dominguez Hills and had over 25 family members in attendance. “It was a tribute to him, just a flick back to yourself and a finish. I’ve been watching tape, but I never thought I’d get a goal like that.”
Kamara’s ninth goal of the season — a career-best tally which is the eighth-most in MLS this season — came after a physical first half in which neither team put a shot on goal. It was the first goal Chivas, 7-13-4, had allowed at home in 342 minutes.
Turns out that wouldn’t be the only one Chivas would allow, as Wizards rookie forward Teal Bunbury — who came on as a sub in the 56th minute — ran down a ball over the top, streaked toward the net and put a right-footed blast past Chivas goalkeeper Zach Thornton in the 83rd minute.
The Wizards, however, won’t have time to savor the win. They will host Houston on Wednesday and FC Dallas on Saturday, with both games at CommunityAmerica Ballpark.
It will be a trying stretch, for sure. But considering the Wizards were able to shake off the rust on Sunday — it was their first match in two weeks — they figure they should also be able to rise to another challenge.
“We expended a lot of energy in this game,” Vermes said. “But right now the mission — and we are on one — is to make the playoffs. We have one thing on our minds, and that’s Houston.”
Wizards need your vote
The Kansas City Wizards and defender Jimmy Conrad are currently in second place in the Pepsi Refresh Project contest being held amongst all 16 Major League Soccer clubs.
The winner will receive a $50,000 grant to fund their proposed project. The Wizards are trying to build and improve youth soccer fields at Belvedere Park, which is located in Kansas City. According to the Wizards, over 600 youth currently play soccer on these fields, with many coming from diverse cultural backgrounds,
Fans can vote for Conrad and the Wizards online at www.mlssoccer.com/pepsirefresh/kansascity until 10:59 p.m. Central time Monday. Supporters can cast their vote up to 25 times per day.