When Alhaji Kamara stepped onto the field on a rainy night in Kansas City, D.C. United fans barely had enough time to wonder what he might accomplish in his club debut before he scored the game-winning goal. It took only 33 seconds for Kamara to do it, which set an MLS record for the fastest goal scored by a player making his league debut, but he wouldn’t score again over the remaining 172.5 minutes he played in 2016.
Arriving in D.C. from IFK Norrköping in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s top tier, Kamara brought with him a goal scoring record of 16 goals in 40 games for his previous club. That record was overshadowed by the news that he had congenital heart disease which could be life threatening with physical exertion. Kamara was cleared by doctors, and he began his MLS career thereafter, but there were questions among fans of both DCU and MLS in general over whether he should have been signed by the Black-and-Red, considering the risk involved.
Kamara’s 173 minutes came over eight games, including two starts. He took just seven shots, placing two on frame, and turning one of those into the aforementioned goal. Those stats are not awe inspiring, but there were statistical bright spots. He was the most accurate passer on the team, completing 40 of his 47 passes for a completion percentage of 85.11%. He also made 5 key passes (a pass leading directly to a shot), which would amount to 2.6 for every 90 minutes of play. For context, Luciano Acosta made 2.03 for every 90 minutes, and Julian Buescher led the team with 2.8. Unfortunately, Kamara also lost the ball a lot — 13 times, or 6.76 times per 90 minutes, the most on the team.
With Patrick Mullins leading the line, it stands to reason that Alhaji Kamara is the incumbent backup heading into 2017. Alvaro Saborio and Fabian Espindola are gone, and Kennedy Igboananike is unlikely to remain with the team due to his salary. Whether DCU thinks Kamara is good enough to be the primary backup to Mullins will be determined over the next few months once the league’s various roster-changing mechanisms kick in.