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Kei Kamara returns to MLS stardom after Norwich City and Middlesbrough disappointments

Kei Kamara collects his Columbus Crew 2015 Golden Boot award, with wife Kristin and their daughter. Picture: Columbus Crew SC Communications/Daniel Herlensky

Kei Kamara collects his Columbus Crew 2015 Golden Boot award, with wife Kristin and their daughter. Picture: Columbus Crew SC Communications/Daniel Herlensky

Columbus Crew SC Communications/Daniel Herlensky

Returning to the United States has worked out for former Norwich City striker Kei Kamara – who finished the regular season with more goals than star forwards including David Villa and Robbie Keane.

Kei Kamara collects his Columbus Crew 2015 Golden Boot award, with wife Kristin and their daughter. Picture: Columbus Crew SC Communications/Daniel HerlenskyKei Kamara collects his Columbus Crew 2015 Golden Boot award, with wife Kristin and their daughter. Picture: Columbus Crew SC Communications/Daniel Herlensky

The former Canaries loanee was the main man for Columbus Crew in the MLS (Major League Scocer) and is now in the thick of the end-of-season play-offs.

Kamara scored 22 goals to help Columbus to second place in the Eastern Conference, to qualify automatically for the MLS play-offs.

That saw the 31-year-old centre-forward beaten to the Audi Golden Boot award by Italy international Sebastian Giovinco, formerly of Juventus but now of Toronto, who also scored 22 goals but took the award by virtue of more assists – 16 to Kamara’s eight.

The Sierra Leone international joined City on loan from Sporting Kansas City for the second half of the 2012/13 Premier League season and scored one goal in 11 games.

Kei Kamara of Norwich celebrates his equalising goal against Everton with Sebastien Bassong of Norwich during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdKei Kamara of Norwich celebrates his equalising goal against Everton with Sebastien Bassong of Norwich during the Barclays Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwich. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

His energy and personality proved popular with the Carrow Road faithful but Kamara did not do enough to persuade the Canaries to sign him.

He tried his luck in the Championship last season, joining Middlesbrough on loan. Four goals in his first eight games suggested Kamara had found his level but no further goals were added in the remainder of his 25 games with Boro and Kamara returned to his adopted homeland.

On Sunday the striker was unable to prevent Columbus losing 2-1 at Montreal Impact, who had Chelsea legend Didier Drogba in their starting line-up, as well as former Wimbledon and West Ham midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker. The second leg is in Columbus on Sunday night (3am UK time).

Another former Canaries striker plying his trade in the MLS is Robert Earnshaw, scoring two goals in nine appearances of an injury-hit campaign with Vancouver Whitecaps. The Canadian club finished second in the Western Conference and drew the first leg of their play-off semi-final 0-0 at Portland Timbers, although the 34-year-old former Wales striker wasn’t involved.

The Whitecaps are managed by former Norwich and Wolves midfielder Carl Robinson.

The season is over for former Canaries academy and King’s Lynn player Dom Dwyer though.

The 25 year-old scored the winner in a 2-1 win over LA Galaxy on the final day of the regular season to take his goal tally to 12 for the campaign.

That saw Kansas finish sixth in the Western Conference but they drew their play-off qualifier 2-2 at Portland Timbers, before losing 7-6 in a penalty shoot-out.

Dwyer has previously been linked with loan moves back to England with Championship sides but is a big star in America, as he is married to women’s football star Sydney Leroux, who helped the USA win the World Cup in Canada this summer.

The King’s Lynn-raised attacker has previously represented the MLS All Stars and has recently been linked with representing his adopted homeland on the international stage, if he successfully applied for citizenship in 2017.

Other Canaries links in the MLS include former academy midfielder Harrison Heath, who was part of City’s under-18 squad which won the FA Youth Cup in 2013.

Heath was released in the summer of 2014 and joined former Brazil and Real Madrid superstar Kaka at Orlando City, managed by his father, former Leicester defender Adrian Heath. Orlando narrowly missed out on the play-offs in their inaugural MLS season.

The other play-off matches see DC United go to New York Red Bulls with a 1-0 deficit to overturn and Seattle Sounders head to FC Dallas with a 2-1 lead, with former Fulham and Tottenham striker Clint Dempsey on target for Seattle in the first leg.

MLS top scorers

• Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto) – 22 goals in 33 games (16 assists)

• Kei Kamara (Columbus)– 22 goals in 32 games ( eight assists)

• Robbie Keane (Los Angeles) – 20 goals in 24 games (eight assists)

• David Villa (New York City) – 18 goals in 30 games (eight assists)

• Bradley Wright-Phillips (NY Red Bulls) – 17 goals in 34 games (seven assists)

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