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Danny O'Rourke - Gone But Not Forgotten

Danny O'Rourke's spent seven seasons as a member of the Columbus Crew. He has left a legacy for what he did on and off the field.

Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE

Yesterday the Columbus Crew announced that the organization had picked up the options on 14 players. Among these were goalkeeper Matt Lampson, defenders Chad Barson and Tyson Wahl, and midfielders Justin Meram, Bernardo Anor, and Ben Speas.

A player who did not make the cut was local product Danny O'Rourke.

The nine-year MLS veteran spent the last seven seasons with his hometown team, playing in front of friends and family who remember him from his state championship days at Worthington Kilbourne.

He started 137 games for the Black and Gold in the midfield or along the backline. The always versatile player is yet to score in his MLS career, but he made an impact on the Crew.

In 2008, O'Rourke was moved from his familiar position as a defensive midfielder to play in the heart of the defense along side Chad Marshall.

That season O'Rourke played in and started 28 games, making up one of the league's best defenses and helping his team bring home their first MLS Cup.

Despite playing out of position frequently after that, O'Rourke never complained.

During an interview with him for the Lantern while I was a student at Ohio State, Danny told me that then head coach Sigi Schmid saw him as a central defender, so that's where he would play.

"I will play wherever they need me to," he said. That is the type of player O'Rourke is.

Over his professional career, O'Rourke has never been flashy. He works hard and plays a tough brand of soccer that a team needs, especially one that identifies itself as "America's Hardest Working Team."

Injuries plagued the second-half of number five's tenure in Columbus. After playing 81 games in his first three seasons back home, O'Rourke played 23 combined in 2010 and 2011. His health improved over the last two seasons, but he only started 37 games over that span.

MLS has not yet risen to the level of the top professional sports leagues, where athletes are often arrogant bordering on rude. At least in Columbus, fans can still interact with players on a friendly level because they do not see themselves as above anyone else; they're just happy to be playing.

If there was a player who could have been cocky, it was O'Rourke. The Herman Trophy winner - given annually to the nation's best college soccer player - at Indiana returned home to a town that loved him and it could have gone to his head.

This was not the case. In my many interactions with him, O'Rourke was always polite and happy to talk. Whether it was in an interview or a social situation, O'Rourke was just a normal guy who happened to play soccer for a living.

It is the nature of the sports world that players come and go. At 30-years old, O'Rourke's professional career need not be over.

The Crew may be looking to bring him back, albeit at a lower salary and he is eligible for the league's Re-Entry draft in December. I'm sure Crew fans would love to see him land on his feet elsewhere and MLS in order to finish out his career, albeit slightly saddened that it is not in Columbus.

O'Rourke's stats won't make him one of the most talked about players in Crew history, but he is a one who likely won't be forgotten.

Danny O'Rourke. One of the good guys.