MLS not far behind the Championship and Premier League, insists Kei Kamara

Middlesbrough Riverside Stadium gates

Having experienced life in the top two tiers of English football, new Columbus Crew signing Kei Kamara maintains that the standard of MLS isn't far behind.

Having sealed a return to the USA with the Columbus Crew last week, former Middlesbrough forward Kei Kamara contends the standard of MLS isn’t too different to that of either the Championship or Premier League.

Kamara, 30, had been available on a free transfer since late-August after coming to an agreement to terminate his Boro contract, with the Sierra Leone international later joining Wolverhampton Wanderers on trial last month.

A permanent move to Molineux failed to materialise due to work permit issues, but the MLS icon maintains that he is more than pleased to be back with the club where he first began his professional career in 2006.

‘After we terminated [the contract] I had different options,’ he told MLS Now.

‘A few weeks ago I was at Wolverhampton who offered me a contract to play for them and I said yes, but the next minute I found out that my work permit was turned down because of my country Sierra Leone dropping in the FIFA rankings.

‘It all came because of the disaster out there at the minute with Ebola.

‘We are not able to play games in Sierra Leone and we play every game away.

‘We lost the last couple of games and dropped in the FIFA rankings so my permit got turned down.

‘They were all some of the factors but I knew there was a place that I called home, there’s a place I can always prove myself.

‘[MLS] is one of the best leagues I’ve played in.

‘I’ve played in the Championship and the Premier League and the MLS really isn’t that far away.’

Kamara scored a total of 52 goals in 192 regular-season appearances over the course of his first MLS stint, establishing himself as a fan favourite during successful spells with the Crew, the San Jose Earthquakes, the Houston Dynamo and Sporting Kansas City, respectively.

His impressive goalscoring form with Sporting KC during the 2012 season earned him a fourth-month loan to then-Premier League side Norwich at the start of 2013, before making a £900,000 permanent switch to England with Boro last September.

After netting four times in his first eight games, Kamara would go goalless for the rest of the 2013-14 campaign, before failing out of the first-team picture under new manager Aitor Karanka this summer, but the tall front man insists he loved his time on Teesside.

‘Things were good at Boro,’ he said. ‘I got the transfer over there and Tony Mowbray was the manager who gave me my shot and an opportunity, and I proved myself and scored some goals.

‘I got knocked down with an injury later on in the season and a new manager [Aitor Karanka] came in.

‘Everything was still going well but different people have a different view with the way they want to play, and maybe I wasn’t perfect enough for the formation or the style of play that was coming into Boro.

‘I didn’t think I could help the club as much anymore so mutually we spoke about it what the future would be for the club and it was a mutual agreement.

‘I am happy and wish them the best of luck.’

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