Just over six months since his passing, the Crew and the University of North Carolina will join forces to honor Kirk Urso in the first annual Kirk Urso Memorial Match in Greensboro, North Carolina on Sunday. The match will be played at Macpherson Stadium, home of the Carolina Dynamo, the PDL club Urso played with while at UNC.
Though it will be an emotional time for everyone who knew Urso, the game will bring back memories of Urso's character on and off the field.
"It's difficult to explain. Obviously, it's still fresh in our minds," Crew Head Coach Robert Warzycha said. "Kirk was a teammate who everybody liked. We miss him. We're going to North Carolina to honor his memory. That's the least we can do."
"It's a very special event for us," UNC Head Coach Carlos Somoano added. "It's going to be an emotional experience, which is hard to put into words. We're proud to be able to do it. We definitely want to thank the Crew for coming to North Carolina to do this and make this happen. It's pretty unique that we're able to have the Crew, North Carolina and in some ways, the Carolina Dynamo represented, which are three of the teams Kirk recently represented."
During his time as a student-athlete at North Carolina, Urso exhibited leadership on the field while also being a role model in the Chapel Hill community. During Urso's senior season, he captained the Tar Heels to the 2011 NCAA Championship.
"[Urso] was one of those once in a generation type of guys," Somoano said. "I don't think it was a coincidence that while he was here, we went to four Final Fours and won a championship with him as the captain."
Urso's parents, Michael and Sandy, along with his older brother Kyle will be in attendance Sunday. Though the family is still in the grieving process, it gives them joy to continually see the impact Urso had on those he encountered.
"To have these groups of people in the Columbus Crew, UNC and the Carolina community come together in his honor gladdens our hearts, knowing how much all these people meant to him," Urso's mother, Sandy, wrote in an email. "His loss has not gotten any easier and we have looked on this game with excitement, knowing we will get to see so many who shared in his life and feeling that Kirk will once again be a part of the teams."
She continued: "We appreciate all the hard work that was put in by everyone who made this event possible. We hope that this game can be successful for heart research so that what happened to Kirk never happens to another. While we know it will be bittersweet, we also know Kirk will be looking on with that smile of his, humbly impressed to be honored in such an amazing way."
Tickets for the match and auction items are still available online. All proceeds will benefit the Kirk Urso Memorial Fund.