While his D.C. United teammates went on an immediate break following last week's 2-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders, Alhaji Kamara had other plans. Having played 9 minutes against the Sounders, Kamara was given two tasks while his teammates took a break from all things soccer for the Copa America break.
One was to complete a training regimen created by United's staff on his own time. By the looks of it, Kamara had no issues completing that task.
The other was to spend some time with D.C. United's U-23 team. Kamara did just that, and was given an opportunity for a longer run out with the reserve side. "I was asked to train with the U-23 team. I played a reserve game with them, just between the team," Kamara told B&RU exclusively on Tuesday. "It was good, and then I was off."
Kamara, in his limited time with United, has had just two short appearances from the bench as he works his way back into full fitness after a long layoff. With the U23s, Kamara played for 45 minutes, allowing him to keep working on his match fitness even with United not having a game for two weeks.
And now the training regime and scrimmage have Kamara on course for an even more expanded role next Wednesday, when United host the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at the Maryland SoccerPlex for the Fourth Round of the US Open Cup.
"He hasn't talked about starting, but he said I'm going to get enough minutes," Kamara said Ben Olsen told him about his Open Cup participation. "Every minute, I'm ready to play."
In addition to working on his fitness, Kamara also continues to settle into the area following his move from Sweden. His agent, Patrick Mork, headed back over to Europe recently, but Kamara found some favorable living arrangements in Virginia, where he now resides with a fellow Sierra Leonean.
"Here it's much better," Kamara said of his first impressions about the US. But the one thing he has heard plenty about is the weather. Kamara said he has had some warning about what he will experience in due time when United heads to Texas to face the Houston Dynamo on June 18th.
"I've heard that. It's just something that I've had to put out of my mind," Kamara said. "I just have to think about the game, and how we should go out there and have a good game."
And even though his time on the field in MLS has totaled just 14 minutes, Kamara has already noted appreciable differences in the way the game is played here compared to how it was played in Sweden, where he spent most of his career previously.
"Here it's aggression. It's intense the whole game. In Sweden it's different, because when we had the ball, the opponent tried to read what about the play and what we wanted to do," said Kamara.
"Here, the whole field, everyone is running around. It's much tougher here. You don't have time to relax, you run the whole game. It's intense."
Kamara isn't quite sure that the different style of play necessarily suits his strengths, but he said there was only one way to adapt to play in MLS: "When you are in the water, you have no option but to swim. You can't make excuses," said Kamara. "You just have to try to be part of the team, part of the style, part of the culture here. You just have to blend."