Newly acquired striker Kei Kamara scored his first goal for Minnesota United in Saturday’s 2-0 home victory over FC Cincinnati and his 130th MLS goal, fifth all-time.
It was also the first time Loons supporters witnessed his goal-scoring tradition, a “heart-shaped hands” gesture he makes with his thumbs and index fingers.
“It’s my celebration,” Kamara said after Saturday’s game. “It’s something that is a part of me now. I enjoy doing it because the fans love it.”
There were no Allianz Field supporters to join him when he turned teammate Chase Gasper’s pain from a bloodied ankle after a Cincinnati foul in the penalty area into a made penalty kick in the 16th minute.
It was the only goal the Loons needed. But midfielder Kevin Molino added one in the 69th minute, after he returned from injury as a second-half substitute.
Both scored with Loons supporters watching from home only.
“I’m disappointed to not have fans in the stadium so I can share it with them,” Kamara said. “It’s my trademark celebration. I wish there were people in the stands because then more people will start picking it up.”
He celebrated career goal 130 with those heart-shaped hands, just as he has so many others since at least 2011.
But who’s counting?
Turns out, Loons video analyst Sam Lawson, to name one, is. He told Kamara after the game that was No. 130. That’s three goals behind No. 4 Jaime Moreno and four behind No. 3 Jeff Cunningham.
“It’s great that people keep score for me, but I’m not keeping score,” said Kamara, who entered MLS in 2006. “The only score I know is zero MLS Cups [won]. It doesn’t matter what team I play for, I’m a goal-scorer and that’s going to happen. But I’m not counting the goals anymore. If I can score a goal to give us three points, I just want to be in a playoff position so we can battle for an MLS Cup.”
Kamara’s first goal for the Loons helped lift his new team from sixth place in the Western Conference to fourth. Eight West teams make the playoffs.
“Well, hopefully a few more before the end of the season,” Loons coach Adrian Heath said when asked how many more Kamara goals he’ll see. “He is getting better each game. He hasn’t played a lot of football this year. This will do his confidence no harm but good.”
Kamara’s goal celebrations also provide the name for his HeartShapedHands Foundation that helps schoolchildren with fees and scholarships back home in Sierra Leone.
Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale, in 2013, filed to trademark a logo that included a version of heart-shaped hands and his uniform No. 11.
But Kamara calls it his own.
“There is nothing better than scoring a goal in your home stadium and seeing the whole crowd do it,” he said. “There is nothing better than heart-shaped hands.”