COMMERCE CITY, Colo. — New Colorado Rapids striker Kamani Hill spent the first five years of his professional soccer career touring more European countries than most American study abroad students see with a Europass.
From Germany to Portugal to Norway, Hill tried to work his way into a regular role with a team. But with all the different stops on the continent, he struggled to find somewhere to play consistently.
But Hill’s search for that coveted role finally came to an end in late March when the Bay Area native returned to the US and signed with the Colorado Rapids, where he’s scored a team-high three goals in just seven matches. For the first time in his seven-year career, he has established himself as a key contributor for his club.
“I’ve been [champing] at the bit to get on the field, and now that it’s finally here I’m appreciative, but it was about time,” the 26-year-old Hill told MLSsoccer.com this week. “You never know what’s going to happen, but being a new player you expect an opportunity. But, I didn’t expect it to open up the way it did, and I’m happy that it did.”
Just four days after putting pen to paper on his first MLS contract, Hill scored the insurance goal in the Rapids’ 2-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on April 1. Less than three weeks later, Hill made his first start in burgundy during a 2-1 loss to the Galaxy and, a week later, Hill scored two goals in a 4-0 win over Chivas USA.
In Sunday’s 2-0 triumph over FC Dallas, Hill provided the crucial assist on the Rapids’ second goal.
All in all, it’s been a dream start for the striker, who became an afterthought for so many teams in so many countries.
“Not having played so much throughout his career, Kamani has that special drive that makes him want to play,” Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja told MLSsoccer.com. “I love that as a coach. He’s working really hard and we’re really happy with him.”
Hill has essentially become Mr. Versatility for the Rapids, who have the weekend off before a midweek match against D.C. United next Wednesday. He has played throughout the midfield and up top as a striker in his seven games with Colorado. But now with Omar Cummings sidelined for up to four weeks with an ankle sprain, Hill will likely see more time at striker, and he’ll likely get more starts as a result.
“In my career I’ve played all over the field, but I’m most comfortable naturally playing underneath the striker,” Hill said. “I have played everywhere. I’m not afraid of it. I don’t mind.”
While Hill is still working on his fitness — Pareja said it’s the biggest drawback in Hill’s game right now — after years of bouncing across Europe, he appears to have finally found a home in Commerce City.
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.