MLS mid-season awards: 2015 MVP (so far)

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When Kei Kamara made the decision to return to Major League Soccer last fall, eyebrows were raised as one of the most dominant athletes in league history was coming back to where he’d already had so much success (37 goals scored for Sporting Kansas City from 2010 to 2013). The scariest part about Kamara’s return (for the rest of the league, at least) had more to do with where he was landing: Columbus Crew SC.

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The 2014 edition of the Columbus Crew was an extremely talented, young bunch of players who ultimately proved naive and inexperienced come playoff time. They also sorely lacked a true goalscoring threat at the center forward position, which is why the cash was splashed to sign Kamara.

At 30 years old, Kamara is enjoying the best season of his career — 12 goals scored (a career high, with 16 games still to be played) and five assists (three short of his career high) — and finds himself the league’s leader in goals and assists combined at the halfway point of the 2015 season.

[ RELATED: 2015 MLS Best XI (so far) — featuring Kamara, Gio, Castillo and more ]

The freakish athleticism is still there for Kamara (above video), but what’s impressed anyone who’s watched Crew SC this season the most are his (unexpected) poacher’s instincts inside the penalty area. Played predominantly as a winger for the last five years, Kamara rarely got to show what he could do inside the 18-yard box, and when he did, the chances were so few and far between that he wasn’t exactly sharp or clinical in the final product.

That’s changed this season (below video), as Kamara exudes confidence and composure in front of goal — something this life-long Kansas Citian never saw coming. For all the goals, all the assists and all the MLS Fantasy points thus far (thanks, Kei!), Kei Kamara would be my choice for 2015 MLS MVP if the season ended today.