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Kei Kamara heads African players to watch in Major League Soccer 2020

Kei Kamara is the second-leading all-time scorer in MLS still active in the competition, after Chris Wondolowski, and he shows no sign of slowing down.

The Colorado Rapids veteran maintained his consistent scoring run with a 14-goal haul last season to match his tally from the previous campaign, and how the former Sierra Leone international, 35, would love to add a domestic title to his honours list; he has won the Eastern Conference on three occasions only to fall short in the MLS Cup.

The addition of Danish-Moroccan playmaker Younes Namli from FC Krasnodar should be enough to ensure the Rapids are in playoff contention -- he's been excellent in preseason -- and his chemistry with Kamara should be central to their hopes once he shakes off a niggling injury.

Lalas Abubakar enjoyed a breakout season last term, the former Ghana Under-20 international improving Rapids' miserable defence immediately after signing on loan from Columbus Crew, and his permanent arrival should make a significant difference.

The 25-year-old centre-back can establish himself as one of the best in his position in the division, and he should also be pushing for senior recognition with the Black Stars this term.

Reigning champions Seattle Sounders can call upon Cameroon's Nouhou Tolo and Kenyan Handwalla Bwana, although both are likely to be used in backup roles initially.

Los Angeles FC comfortably topped the Western Conference ahead of Sounders last season, during an exceptional campaign that was due in no small part to the indefatigable work of Latif Blessing, nicknamed 'Game Changer', in the heart of the park or as a utility right-back. An attacking player in his youth, the Ghanaian has been transformed into a versatile work horse, a role in which there are few better in the division.

Mohamed El-Munir, also on LAFC's books, is one of two Libyan players in the division, with New York City FC's Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, the other, a lethal prospect on the right-flank.

NYCFC will hope that new signing and former Arsenal starlet Gedion Zelalem can adapt to their idiosyncratic style of play. Zelalem, 23, was born to Ethiopian parents but has represented Germany and the U.S. at youth level.

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Adrien Regattin, at Cincinnati FC, is another North African in the MLS, and the Moroccan will be charged with providing oppoerunities for new boy Jurgen Locadia.

Another Ghanaian, still going strong at 33, is Harrison Afful, who will look to bounce back for Columbus Crew after an injury-hit 2019.

The veteran's experience is a major asset, but his athleticism and intelligence -- evident across more than 80 caps with the Black Stars - also remain undiminished. He is looking to mark his fifth season in the U.S. with silverware alongside compatriot Jonathan Mensah.

The most intriguing subplot with the Crew involves the arrival of Fanendo Adi from Hell is Real rivals Cincinnati FC after a season interrupted by injury and a DUI charge.

If the towering Nigerian striker can replicate the form he enjoyed at Portland Timbers, for whom he scored 56 goals in five seasons, then he could emerge as a major offseason steal.

There's also Nigerian interest at New York Red Bulls, where former Darmstadt 98 man Mandela Egbo will need to unseat Kyle Duncan to claim the right-back berth.

The Timbers can call upon one of the division's genuine African stalwarts in Larrys Mabiala, who's been in the MLS since 2017; the 2018 MLS Cup runners-up will be keen for the Congolese defender to strike up an immediate partnership with ball-playing centre-back Dario Zuparic.

At post-Wayne Rooney D.C. United, youngster Moses Nyeman -- Liberian-born but a U.S. international at Under-16 level -- could be one to watch if he gets ample playing time among the Black-and-Red's new faces, and Johan Kappelhof and Michael Azira are familiar faces in an unfamiliar Chicago Fire side.

Atlanta United, who can call upon Nigerian left-back George Bello, are also major contenders for this year's Eastern Conference, while African trio Chris Mavinga, Ifunanyachi Achara and Ayo Akinola can help Toronto FC re-establish themselves as domestic heavyweights.

Over in the Western Conference, Saphir Taider of Montreal Impact remains one of the most underrated players in the MLS and should be a key figure under incoming head coach Thierry Henry.

He's playing out his career in relatively low-key environs considering earlier stints with Internazionale and in the Premier League with Southampton, but the Impact appears to suit the Algerian as he relishes the opportunity to control the play and keep his team ticking over from deep.

Rookie coach Henry will also be looking to get the best out of young Nigerian attacker Orji Okwonkwo.

At Minnesota United, one of the teams to watch this season, Romain Metanire can stake a claim to being one of the best right-backs in the MLS.

The full-back enjoyed a stellar 2019, as he represented Madagascar in their first ever Africa Cup of Nations appearance, and adapted seamlessly to MLS. Expect more of the same from him, particularly with new signing, U.S. international Ike Opara, set to play alongside him.

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Nedum Onuoha, once of Manchester City, is heading into his third MLS season with Real Salt Lake, with the highlight of his time in the U.S. so far being an infamous spat with Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

The Anglo-Nigerian defender is a calm head and a versatile presence across the backline, and his nous could be crucial to RSL as they look to compensate for a lack of firepower upfront and the retirement of legendary MLS keeper Nick Rimando.

Also keep an eye out for flamboyant Ethiopia-born Israel youth international Gadi Kinda, recruited by Sporting Kansas City on loan from Beitar Jerusalem to provide another midfield option.

It will be fascinating to see how tenacious Ghanaian Leonard Owusu fares at Vancouver Whitecaps following his move from Israeli side Ashdod, and he'll be charged with easing the burden on last season's Designated Player arrival Inbeom Hwang in the middle of the park once his work permit concerns subside.

Finally, new boys Nashville SC will be heavily reliant on German-Sudanese midfielder Hany Mukhtar to unlock opposition defences, but does the former Germany Under-21 international have the vision and the footwork to get the best out of David Accam, Dominique Badji and Abu Danladi?

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