I was in church Sunday morning when I was texted with the sad news of Kirk Urso’s death. I will leave the details and other news related to this sad event to others. I want to share some memories I have of a very nice young man.
I first met Kirk about 8 years ago at the CASL Shootout in Raleigh. He played for Sockers FC of Chicago and he was a U14 or U15 players at the time. It was a Sunday morning and the game was played on one of the smaller complexes used for the tournament. I didn’t know who Kirk was when I went to cover the game, but he quickly stood out among all the players on the field. He wasn’t the biggest guy out there, but he had a tremendous poise on the ball, a very good soccer brain evidenced by the decisions he was making, and some especially good skills to make things happen on the field.
I interviewed him afterward and I remember thinking that along with being mature for his 14 or 15 years of age, he was quite winsome. He just had a pleasant disposition and good nature about him.
Others were noticing his talent as well of course and before too long he was in the Bradenton Residency program. He was with the U17 Men’s National Team that played in Korea in 2007, scoring the decisive goal on a great strike in a win over Belgium. His parents were kind to me at a time when things were tough for someone trying to start a business writing about club and college soccer.
He was an important part of a North Carolina team that was as good as any college soccer team in the country for four years, finishing off his college career with a great performance in the NCAA title-clincher over Charlotte last summer in Birmingham. Talking with him after the post-match press conference, we laughed about the various places around the world I had watched him play and how far he had come as a player. He still had that winsome personality.
He flew under the radar a bit to start a number of games with the Columbus Crew in his rookie year. He was struggling with an injury recently but you just knew he would get back into the lineup and continue to excel, like he had at every level.
His soccer playing will be missed, but the greater loss is of a son, a brother and a friend. Our condolences go out to his family and friends.
Our J.R. Eskilson had the following comment about Kirk I wanted to share with you.
"I wrote a story in December about the connection between Urso, Greg Jordan, and Andy Rose. It was the only time I remember talking to him 1 on 1. He was nice, polite, and humble on the phone, but Rose and Jordan both said he was fiercely competitive on the field. I was pretty confident Urso would make it at the next level because he had that drive to succeed - that drive to be the best on the field at every practice. I was truly shocked and saddened to see the email from Caroline this morning with the news."