Rookie Urso emerging as Crew's set-piece specialist
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Kirk Urso has taken all eight corner kicks for the Columbus Crew through their first two matches, and a few free kicks to boot. His partner in restarts insists the rookie is up to the task.
“That doesn’t surprise me, because he has a gift,” said midfielder Milovan Mirosevic. “He’s a good kicker with both legs. He can have a great future if he wants to.”
The assumption when the Crew signed Mirosevic in January was that the talented Chilean international would handle the bulk of the restarts. But Urso, a Supplemental Draft pick from the University of North Carolina, has been a pleasant surprise.
“I’ve been taking them my whole life,” Urso said. “It’s more of an opportunity that opened up and it’s something that I can do and hopefully help the team by delivering good services. I’m not too surprised, but at the same time, I know it’s not common for someone to just come into the league and take that responsibility.”
While Mirosevic has scored off dead ball goals against collegians this spring, the Chilean international said he is happy sharing duties.
“I’m not a specialist on free kicks,” he said.
Mirosevic prefers free kicks – “Corners are too far,” he joked – but Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said circumstances dictate who is on the ball.
“In certain situations, Urso is taking free kicks and Milo is a good finisher, so I want him in the box,” he said. “That way, Kirk can serve it. He’s doing a good job. If it’s a shooting one, Milo will take it. If it’s a wide one, Urso is taking it.”
Their rotation is no different than a football team having a kicker for short field goals and another for long ones.
“It changes, but around the box, Milo has been really dangerous on free kicks,” Urso said. “I’m sure he’ll take those, but if it’s further out, I can whip in a good one.”
There are other options, too. Eddie Gaven led the team with 56 corner kicks last season and Mirosevic noted that on longer free kicks the ball could be rolled to Emilio Rentería for one of his powerful but often off-target strikes.
Defender Nemanja Vukovic signed with Columbus on March 21 after returning from his native Montenegro, but has yet to find a permanent place to live.
Serbian-born goalkeeper coach Scoop Stanisic has befriended Vukovic and has helped him in the search.
“Yesterday, we see one place; I don’t know where,” Vukovic told MLSsoccer.com in his first interview. “It’s five minutes to the airport, 15 minutes to training and 10 minutes to the stadium. It’s a very good place.”
It sounds like he might find a home in northeast Columbus just as he hopes to take up residency at left back as he awaits his MLS debut.
“I can help this team play better,” he said. “I have a good cross, a good left foot and I have good timing for offensive attacks.”