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Crew Stadium Moment No. 15: First game after Kirk Urso’s passing

It was a Black & Gold match full of emotions.

Los Angeles Galaxy v Columbus Crew Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Massive Report is counting down the 15 most memorable moments in Crew Stadium history based on voting from the staff. Join the discussion on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #MRStadium.

On Aug. 5, 2012, the Columbus Crew lost a member of its family far too young with the passing of Kirk Urso at just 22 years old. The rookie midfielder fell unconscious at a Columbus bar and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead just before 2 a.m.

Upon learning of the news, the club canceled its reserve league match against D.C. United that was scheduled later that week. The news quickly made its way around Major League Soccer where teams honored Urso with a moment of silence.

Ten days after Urso’s passing, the Crew played its first match against the LA Galaxy. Both teams wore armbands that donned No. 15 — a number that has not been worn by a Black & Gold player since — and heavy hearts laid with his teammates.

As the gates opened, there was a memorial set up in front of the Lamar Hunt statue at historic Crew Stadium. Flowers, cards and bracelets lay around the picture of Urso that had sunflowers around the frame. Fans stopped by to pay their respects to the midfielder while many shed tears.

Who knew that a player could mean so much to a club? Despite being new to the team, Urso had heart and passion. He only played in six matches for the Crew, but it was evident that day the impact he had on the team and its community.

After warmups, as the two teams made their way onto the pitch, a speech was made over the in-stadium speakers from public address announcer Josh Poland. More tears were shed as the starting lineup for the Crew wrapped arms around one another. In the Nordecke, multiple banners and two-sticks reading “KU15” were held up by the dedicated supporters of the club.

As the 0-0 game progressed on into the first quarter-hour of the match, a hush fell over the crowd. The 15th minute of that game was dedicated to a moment of silence along with the banners and tifos that honored Urso. Fans embraced one another for the entire minute until the silence broke with a bagpipe playing Amazing Grace. Almost the entire stadium started singing in what anyone in attendance will remember as an amazing moment.

To top it all off, a bigger tifo was unveiled that read “Kirk Urso, 1990-2012. Forever Massive.”

The match ended 1-1. Jairo Arrieta got Columbus on the board first, only to be canceled out by a Robbie Keane goal midway through the second half. Although the Crew didn’t pull out a win, it was still a special day in Black & Gold and Crew Stadium history. To see the team battle through sorrow and play with heavy hearts against the reigning MLS Cup champions was something fans will never forget.

While many of those who knew Urso have departed, he is still remembered by the Crew family. As mentioned, his number, though not officially retired, has not been worn and there is always an outpouring of rememberance on the annual anniversary of his passing by the team. Behind the north goal in Crew Stadium a Urso tifo, visible during every match.

The Black & Gold also have the Kirk Urso Heart Award, which is given to the player that best exemplifies the qualities in a teammate that has the biggest heart in the locker room. Inaugurated in 2012, Darlington Nagbe was the seventh player to earn the award in 2020 after Urso was given it in its first year.

The players are reminded of the impact Kirk Urso left every match day. Painted on the wall near the exit of the locker room in historic Crew Stadium is Urso’s famous quote: “I am strong. I can overcome.”