[OBITUARY] Kirk Urso, the Columbus Crew rookie who died unexpectedly Sunday morning, was remembered by players and coaches as a hard-working young man who fulfilled his dream of being a pro, starting for the Crew to open the 2012 season despite being passed over in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft.
Police officers arrived at Park Street Patio, a Columbus bar, at 12:50 a.m. after the 22-year-old Urso had collapsed. He was taken to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m. An autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
“He was one of the best kids I ever had the good fortune to be around,” Philadelphia Union coach John Hackworth, who coached Urso on the U.S. U-17s, told Fox Sports. “I respected the way he lived his life every day. He was happy, but he was one of the most committed, dedicated and hard-working kids I’ve been around. He didn’t have as much talent as some of the other kids, but he had 10 times the heart, which is probably why he made such an impression.”
Urso played for the USA at the 2007 Under-17 World Cup, scoring the winning goal in its final group game against Belgium. He captained North Carolina's 2011 NCAA championship team.
Despite not being taken until the Supplemental Draft, he started five games early in the 2012 season for the Crew.
Urso admitted he was pretty upset when he was passed over in the SuperDraft despite captaining North Carolina to the 2011 national title and starting 80 games in four seasons with the Tar Heels. Crew coach Robert Warzycha liked what he saw in Urso at UNC, especially his work ethic, and installed him as holding midfielder in the Crew's opening lineup at Colorado.
He was first sidelined with a groin injury in May, one of a long list of injured Crew players. He was rehabilitating from sports hernia-type surgery for adductor tendinitis he underwent in June and was not with the Crew for its game Saturday at D.C. United.
"The thing that stood out to me was how good he was but also how humble and friendly he was," fellow Crew rookie and roommate Ethan Finlay said in a text message to the Columbus Dispatch. "He had a great sense of humor, one that could brighten even the saddest of days. He was a one-of-a-kind and that's why I'm going to miss him."