Over 2,000 fans from the Columbus Crew and University of North Carolina communities gathered at UNC Greensboro Stadium in Greensboro, NC Sunday afternoon to honor Kirk Urso in the inaugural Kirk Urso Memorial Match. Though the Crew topped the Tar Heels 1-0 behind Konrad Warzycha's 79th minute tally, results were unimportant as all proceeds from the match went to the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund, which helps fund research for congenital heart failure to help prevent the condition that led to Urso's early passing last August.
It was an emotional day for everyone involved as Urso was remembered for his legacy on the soccer field and the impact he left off of it.
"[The turnout] just shows how many lives Kirk touched and how many people were thankful to have him in their life," Crew defender Eric Gehrig said after the match. "It's always nice looking back on Kirk, remembering the good things and keeping him a part of our lives and letting his legacy live on. We're always sharing stories about the great Kirk Urso because that's what he was. He was great."
"I started getting a little teary-eyed as we got closer to kickoff, just seeing the boys Kirk used to play with at Carolina come together with us," Gehrig continued. "I had the pleasure start a couple games with [Urso], so it was kind of an emotional scene of all the guys he battled with over the years."
Midfielder Ben Speas helped deliver the 2011 NCAA Championship with Urso while at North Carolina before the two joined the Crew as rookies in the 2012 season. The former Tar Heel was pleased to see both communities come together for the cause.
"For me personally, it's awesome," Speas said. "All these people probably knew Kirk better than I did, all these teammates that were with him for longer than I was. I think it just shows the lives that he touched. For our Crew teammates, it's good. We still think about him daily. It's still tough, but I think this is a good event."
The Crew will return to Columbus on Monday to prepare for its season opener on March 2 against Chivas USA in Carson, Calif.