The Crew return to the field for the first time since Kirk Urso's untimely passing. The team's last game in D.C. seems like a distant memory. The shock and numbness of the tragedy has only just started to ease it's grip on Crew Nation.
All of the plans that the Crew had prepared for Saturday are in effect for the rare packed house on a Wednesday night. Urso's life will be celebrated before the team makes it's emotional return to the field.
The Crew organization has been through a tremendous ordeal in the past week and a half. The club tried to come to terms with the death of a well liked member of the team culminating, with a show of unity, a trip to Illinois to bury their teammate.
Columbus resumes a season that's been on pause. Ready or not, the Crew get back to playing soccer tomorrow. The rest of the league played games, jockied for position in the standings, suffered losses, and celebrated wins. The team now has to pull back into a competitive frame of mind. Goals, saves, tackles, and playoff position are once again important.
It's impossible to guess how the Crew will respond after such a singular tragedy. Never has MLS lost an active player and emotions will be running high. The team certainly couldn't be blamed if they lack focus or energy, but it's also possible that the tragedy brings together a very close knit clubhouse and fuels them on the field.
After tomorrow, the process begins again. A trip to Houston beckons on Sunday with Toronto visting the following Wednesday. The team plays 7 games in 21 days and doesn't get a break until early September. The schedule will take a phsyical toll on the team; the emotional toll bears watching too. The Crew can make up ground in the playoff race and perhaps start to heal.