Two guys playing soccer

The Kamara of the present and the Kamara of the past found themselves on opposite sidelines when the Columbus Crew SC defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 on Aug. 20. Former Crew SC forward Kei Kamara, who just missed winning the MLS Golden Boot award last season with 22 goals, squared off against his replacement Ola Kamara, who scored 10 goals and had one assist in his first 16 games with the Crew.

The Aug. 20 win was Crew SC’s first road game victory of the season and Black and Gold improved to 4-8-11 overall. The team, which finished second in the MLS last season, was ninth in the East Conference behind New York City FC (11-7-8) in the Aug. 21 standings.

“I think it was big. It’s a confidence builder,” Black and Gold Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said. “The first half in particular, I think we played really well. There’s been times this year that we’ve gone on the road and played this way and haven’t got the result, so I think that it’s gratifying to have a strong performance and get the three points.”

Outside of the last name, position and they both played striker for Crew SC, the two players have very little in common, Ola Kamara said.

“A lot of people have Kamara as a last name.  It’s like Smith,” said Ola, who set up Federico Higuain in the 49thminute to give Columbus the 2-0 lead. “Me and Kei are very different types of players. People like to compare us but we are not the same at all.”

Columbus evened its record to 1-1 with the Revolution since trading Kei to New England on May 12. Both Kamaras scoring in New England’s 3-1 win over Crew SC on July 9.

Both Kamaras were on the same sideline until May 12 when Columbus traded Kei to the Revolution. Kei’s turbulent run with the club came to an end on May 12 after a very public spat with Higuain over who was taking a penalty kick during the team’s 4-all tie with the Montreal Impact on May 7.

After scoring two goals, Kei wanted to take a shot to complete the hat trick. Higuain won the argument and nailed the PK but Kei ripped his former teammate after the game and later refused to apologize for his comments. Five days after the incident, Kei was traded to New England.

Ola, who battled a quad injury in the first eight games of the season, was in the team’s Obetz training facility when he learned that the number of Kamaras on the roster had been reduced to one player.

“It was a weird situation for me,” Ola Kamara said. “I like Kei but of course I want to play. I guess ‘mixed feelings’ is the best way to describe it.”

It didn’t take long for Ola to make the most of the opportunity. Sixteen days after the trade, he had a hat trick, scoring his first MLS goal in the 17thminute and then notched two more in the second half to lead Columbus to a 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake on May 28. Ola’s three goals marked the first time the Gold and Black had a player score a hat trick since Sept. 18, 2004 and Ola was named the league’s player of the week for his efforts.

Since that outburst, Ola scored five goals in the month of July. As of Aug. 21, he has scored 10 goals and was tied with Philadelphia’s Chris Pontius and Portland’s Diego Valeri for eighth in MLS goal scoring standings behind Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco (15 goals, 11 assists) and New York City’s David Villa (15 goals, 1 assist).

Ola said he’s gotten more confident with his game as he has adjusted to his new city.

“As a striker, you always get confidence from your goals,” Ola said. “After that hat trick game, my confidence may have been a little bit higher but I feel like I know everything around me so much better now. I know the habits of when we are going into training and you feel more secure because you have been around Columbus the whole time.”

Ola is used to making adjustments to new places. The United States is the fourth country that he has played. He began playing professionally at the age of 16 forStabæk inTippeligaenand then moved to play 1860 Munich in Germany and Austria Wein before coming to the United States.

Ola is a part of a big international family with Columbus. Of the 28 players listed on Crew SC roster, 11 players, representing nine different countries, are from outside the United States.

But, still, moving was a big adjustment.

“You have players who struggle moving from Boston to Columbus, but I can tell you it’s tough moving from overseas,” Ola said. “You are leaving your family and you have to move everything. You don’t know that much about the league or the other players. It’s a little bit different.

“The hardest thing for me to get used to is the humidity. We don’t have humidity like this in Norway so you feel a little bit heavier than you do when you are playing back home. You have to be a little bit smart on how you run and adapt to how you play. You just get used to it being hotter than it is at home.”

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