To help pay tribute to Kirk Urso, Crew veterans Eddie Gaven and Andy Gruenebaum were kind enough to share their memories of their fallen teammate.
Eddie Gaven: "One of my fondest memories of Kirk was down in Florida during preseason this year. We had some down time in between training sessions, and so Andy and I invited him over to our room to teach him how to play Settlers of Catan, a nerdy board game we sometimes play. I figured it'd take him a while to learn and so I was expecting to get a few easy victories against him. But he picked it up incredibly fast -- so fast actually, that he beat us the first two games! I remember thinking then, that there was something special about this kid. And indeed, there was. He was everything you could ask for in a teammate -- honest, hard-working, and humble. On the field, I always wanted him on my team during practice, and off the field, I always enjoyed his company, his sense of humor, and his infectious positive attitude. I will miss him as my teammate for sure. But I'll miss him even more as my friend."
Andy Gruenebaum: "From day one of preseason, it was apparent that Kirk was tailor made for our locker room. It is very rare for a rookie to come into a professional environment and put their stamp on the clubhouse, both personality and playing wise. I can speak volumes about the characters of all of our rookie class this year, but Kirk seemed to embody everything that a friend would want, and a franchise could build upon. Even with an injury setback, Kirk showed up everyday with a smile on his face, and a positive demeanor. I have never had the privilege of meeting Kirk's family, however in my blessed time around Kirk, it is obvious that he had a wonderful upbringing and support group in his friends and family that helped shape him into the wonderful person that he was!"
A special thank you to Eddie and Andy for sharing these memories of Kirk during this difficult time.
Major League Soccer has granted the Crew permission to wear a patch on the club's uniforms to memorialize Kirk Urso, who passed away suddenly on August 5.
"We kept (the design) within the style and tradition that we have established at the club in honoring those that have passed," team equipment manager Rusty Wummel explained. "We have two styles. The black will be used on the home kits and the gold will be used on the secondary kits, placement is above the Adidas logo."
The Crew hopes the patches will be ready in time for Wednesday's match against the LA Galaxy.
Check out the mock-up below:
Once again, Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum has been nominated for Save of the Week by MLSsoccer.com. This week's nomination comes from the 58th minute of Saturday's match against D.C. United when Gruenebaum saved Chris Pontius' breakaway shot from close range to help keep the Crew within a goal of United.
Vote for Gruenebaum here.
Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuaín, brother of newly-signed Designated Player Federico Higuaín, took the time to talk to MLSsoccer.com while Los Blancos tour the U.S. ahead of their upcoming La Liga campaign. Skip ahead to the 1:30 mark where Gonzalo is asked about his older brother coming to MLS (translation below).
Have you had the chance to talk to your brother Federico Higuain? He was recently signed by an MLS team, the Columbus Crew. Have you had a chance to talk to him about this chance that he has in the USA? And what is your personal opinion of soccer here?
Yes, I talked to him. He asked me about the US, the city I’m in right now, the team we are playing. He wants to know because it’s a new league for him. I am very happy because it’s a change for good, and I hope he can do things the best way. I saw him very excited, I hope things go well for him because if he’s doing well, so are we (referring to his family).
Love it or hate it, no one can argue that RFK Stadium doesn't hold a special place in Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer history.
As the League's only stadium that can boast that it's been used since MLS's infancy in 1996, no other site in MLS can boast that it has held World Cup matches for both men and women, 21 U.S. Men's National Team matches, three MLS Cup Finals, and one MLS All-Star Game. Built for football and baseball, RFK stadium has also hosted boxing, bowl games, and various concerts.
RFK Stadium also holds a special place in my heart, because it's where I got my start in MLS as an intern for D.C. United in the summer of 2011. Who knows, without my experience with D.C. United last summer, I might not be writing the article for the Crew right now.
But fear not, Crew fans. In the seven matches in which I worked for D.C. last summer, Ben Olsen's team went 0-4-3 at RFK Stadium. In addition, I traveled to Chicago to see the Black-and-Red draw the Fire 1-1 and drove to my now-home of Crew Stadium to see United's playoff hopes dashed by Eddie Gaven's diving header on October 2, 2011 to go on top of July 21's 1-0 victory. And while the Black & Gold hasn't been wildly successful at RFK-- winning only six times in MLS's 17 year history-- the Crew has taken nine points from its last five matches at the historic stadium in D.C.
Though it is great for MLS that D.C. United may soon get a new stadium in The District within the next few years, you have to appreciate the only stadium that was in use when the league started in 1996 still going strong today. (Even though you may run into cockroaches, raccons, and various other critters in the field-level tunnels.)
The Crew players were greeted with the oppressive Mid-Atlantic heat and humidity on the team walk today through the Dupont Circle area of Washington, D.C.. There was a chorus of resounding "It's so hot..." statements as the team walked to Mitchell Park for a morning stretch. As you can see from Julius James' back in the photo above, many of the players broke a sweat during the stroll. Chris Birchall came prepared however, using napkins to wipe the sweat off his back throughout the walk.
It won't be much cooler at the time of kickoff this evening. Weather.com predicts it will be 89 degrees Fahrenheit with 55-percent humidity, making it feel like 96 degrees. What's more, the concrete structure of RFK Stadium will trap in the heat for tonight's match to make it even more oppressive.
Tonight will be a test of endurance for the Black & Gold, so look for the Crew to come out firing from the opening whistle just as it did two weeks ago against D.C. in search of an early goal in this muggy D.C. weather.
I'll have more from RFK Stadium later as kickoff approaches.
Following the Crew's 2-1 victory in Kansas City on Saturday, the Black & Gold has been racking up the weekly awards around various media outlets. Here's a guide to all the accolades the team has earned this week:
In addition, Arrieta earned Team of the Week honors for by the above outlets and Sports Illustrated. Unfortunately for the Crew, Andy Gruenebaum's five-save effort wasn't enough to edge him past Chicago's Sean Johnson, who was the unanimous selection for the goalkeeper in the above outlets' First XIs.
For the hard-earned road win, Robert Warzycha was honored as Coach of the Week by MLSsoccer.com. It's the second time the Crew skipper has earned that honor this season.
Greetings from Kansas City,
After going their separate ways for breakfast, the players and coaches gathered in the hotel lobby this morning to catch some Olympic action before embarking on the team walk through the city.
Following their Olympic viewing, the players enjoyed the sights of Kansas City on the team walk.
Eventually, the team found a nice shaded are to stretch and mentally prepare for tonight's match against Sporting KC. Eddie Gaven shared his veteran insight with rookies Ethan Finlay and Matt Lampson.
Finally, before heading back to the hotel to rest, these guys insisted on posing for a buddy pic:
The Crew Juniors U-19 advanced to the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship game with 2-1 victory over Empire United SA Syracuse on Thursday morning behind goals from Mike Walker and Cole Denormandie. The 2012 National Championship game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel at 8pm Saturday night live from Rock Hill, SC. Midfielder Wil Trapp will join the U-19s for the National Championship, fresh off a fourth-place finish with the United States U-20 Men's National Team at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland.
Captained by Crew Soccer Academy product and Akron standout Wil Trapp, the United States U-20 Men's National Team beat Turkey 1-0 on Monday to advance to the third place match on Thursday against Chile. The U-20s rebounded from a 2-1 defeat to defending champion Denmark in their opening match on July 21.
The U-20 National Team's assistant coach Brian Bliss will return to Columbus following Thursday's match to resume his duties as Technical Director for the Crew. Soon after, Trapp will return to Akron to begin training for the 2012 season.