Few Columbus Crew SC players might have enjoyed the long break between the MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Eastern Conference Finals more than Ola Kamara.
While most of his teammates used the 16 days between the two stages to allow their bodies to recover and to prepare for Toronto FC, Kamara had the opportunity to keep doing what he loves: playing soccer. And more than that, he did it in the colors of Norway’s national team, something he had not done 2014.
The 28-year-old striker was called in for two friendly matches against Macedonia and Slovakia. The Norwegians were defeated in both matches, but that didn’t make the experience any less memorable to Kamara’s eyes.
“We got slaughtered in the media,” Kamara said upon his return. “That wasn’t too fun, but I liked being back for sure. I got a lot of positive energy out of that. I’m there again and I am competing for a spot and that was good for me. Disappointing results, but for me it was fantastic to be back and see the guys and play for my national team again. It was an unbelievable feeling.”
Kamara logged 98 minutes between the two games and his main disappointment was that he didn’t manage to score a goal. The striker is confident, though, that he has made enough of an impact to convince head coach Lars Lagerback to give him other chances with the team.
“I came in as the fourth guy and I got a start and came in in the second game,” he explained. “I think they liked a little bit what they saw. Of course they wanted a goal and for me that was the disappointing part because I wanted to come and show I am a goal scorer. I had some chances and I think I was the most dangerous striker, but I didn’t score, so I’m happy but also a little bit disappointed.”
Back to training in Columbus since Friday, Kamara has already shifted his focus to Toronto, Crew SC’s rivals in the first leg of the Conference Finals on Tuesday at MAPFRE Stadium.
The striker, who scored only once in six matches against the Canadians, says he is focused only on his game as he prepares to face the second-best defensive system of the regular season.
“My mindset is not walking around thinking about them,” he commented. “I’m thinking about how I’m going to score. Our coaches are thinking on how to beat them and how to break them down, but for me, I have an offensive approach and I’m thinking about how I’m going to score and not about how good they are.”
Crew SC fans hope that Tuesday’s match marks the end of very positive 10 days for Kamara. And if he couldn’t find the back of the net for his national team, what a better opportunity to show how good he is than against the best team in MLS regular season?
“I’m really looking forward to playing these two games and hopefully we are going to win,” he added. “I’m getting a lot of positive energy these days from these two big games and going back to the national team and the opportunity to play MLS Cup too. If you are not happy and not positive now, you are never going to be”.