Two days after Kei Kamara sat on the MAPFRE Stadium pitch somberly watching the Portland Timbers hoist the 2015 MLS Cup, the star striker spoke about his feelings following the 2-1 defeat in the season finale.
And while Kamara addressed his disappointment, he was already back to his upbeat self, cracking jokes about retiring from soccer and focusing on the positive takeaways from an impressive 2015 season.
“I’m about to make an announcement. I’m retiring,” Kamara joked with reporters at the EAS Training Center at Obetz before reflecting on a successful year for the Black & Gold.
“You just have to appreciate how amazing that year was,” he said. “The fact that we were able to play beautiful soccer, entertain people and make it all the way to the final, you have to be happy about that.”
Despite the loss, playing in the MLS Cup was his favorite moment of the year, Kamara said.
“Being at home playing an MLS Cup final, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and this was a great group of guys I was able to do it with,” he said.
“We wanted to lift up that trophy, but the way we turned around the city and sell out that stadium days after announcing we’re hosting the Cup, that’s a moment I played the whole season for, and it was a really, really good moment.”
Captain Michael Parkhurst said that reaching the MLS Cup was an accomplishment to be proud of, but that it would take a couple of weeks to get over the disappointment.
“If you had told us at the beginning of the season that we’d make it to MLS Cup, we would have said that’s fantastic,” he said. “Of course, once you do accomplish that, the goal changes and you’re in it to win it. We expected to win it, we thought we had the capability of doing so, and we felt short. So of course we are disappointed.”
Somewhere between pride and disappointment is where Sporting Director & Head Coach Gregg Berhalter categorized his feelings.
“The lasting memory of the MLS Cup leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” he said, “but there was a lot to be positive about this year, and overall I’m proud of the way the guys played over the course of the year.”
Before sending his players into the offseason, Berhalter made sure they knew how he felt.
“I told them that I am proud of them, but I also wanted to point out that we fell short of our target,” he said. “We don’t want to be complacent. I want the guys to be proud of what they did, but I also want them to know that we could have done more.”
Berhalter reiterated his philosophy of continuous improvement, which has shaped Crew SC into an MLS Cup contender within just two years of his leadership. With that success comes a new set of expectations and a desire to have another run at the MLS Cup next season.
“The only thing you talk about is getting ready for next year,” Kamara said. “You want to make next year better than this year, and the only way you can make next year better obviously is by winning MLS Cup.”
Had Crew SC accomplished that this season, he would have gone “straight to Hollywood to start acting,” Kamara said with a laugh.
“That’s no joke, I would have done that,” he said. “Oh well, it’s time to start playing for another one. We’ll see what happens then.”