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Pain Turns to Motivation for Columbus Crew SC's Kei Kamara

The Black & Gold striker will use what he felt watching the Timbers celebrate on his field to fuel him for next season.

It was all over Sunday and the dream season was done for Columbus Crew SC.

The Portland Timbers players flooded the pitch at MAPFRE Stadium, running to hug each other to celebrate the MLS Cup championship they just won. They headed in a group down to the south stands where thousands of green-clad fans had made the trip to watch their team host the trophy.

The Black & Gold players were shocked, walking to their fans in the Nordecke to give them one last goodbye for the year before heading to the locker room.

One man did not leave the field though.

As the stage was setup for the trophy celebration and the Timbers gathered to receive their prize, Crew SC forward Kei Kamara remained sitting on the field.

"I sat there and just from the minute the whistle blew and everybody was just running past me and celebrating, that hurts but that's what you want," Kamara said. "Just sitting out there and seeing our fans and everybody stayed out and still showed us love and support, for me as a player that's the moment you play for, that's what you play for."

Maybe Kei is a bit of a masochist or maybe he was just taking in his fuel for next season. As he's stated many times, he came to Columbus to win his first championship of his professional career and that job was not accomplished.

"I came here to win something and I haven't done that yet so for now I'm staying put," he said on Tuesday. "Whatever rumors or whatever phone calls do come, it's nothing that I can really talk about much, but I just want to be around here right now."

This season was special for Kamara. He returned to the club that originally drafted him, he and his wife gave birth to their first child, he tied for the league lead in goals scored and finished runner up in the Most Valuable Player voting.

When he looks back on this season, he won't remember the individual accolades or any of those things. The memory that will standout to him is MLS Cup, but not just for the bad reasons.

"I have to be honest that the game this Sunday that will be in my memory forever," Kamara said. "We didn't win the Cup, but just the fact that we made it that far. You don't want to make it that far and not win it, but being at home, playing in an MLS Cup Final, it's something that I've always wanted to do and that was a great group of guys that I was able to do that with. I wanted to lift up that trophy, but the way we turned the city around and selling out that stadium first day or second day of announcing that we were hosting the Cup, that's a moment that I played the whole season for and that was a really, really good moment."

That is what will help him move on from the loss, the good memories from a season full of successes.

As Kamara sat on the field, watching Portland celebrate the championship he was so sure would be his and his teammates', he took it all in because he wants to be back.

And when will that pain turn to motivation for 2016 for Kamara?

"It already started, I have to be honest with you."