Columbus Crew midfielder Kirk Urso died on Sunday, August 5, in Columbus, Ohio. The cause of death has yet to be determined; an autopsy is scheduled for Monday.
I don’t know a lot about Urso as a footballer. I know that he spent much of his rookie season dealing with a groin injury, though he gave some solid performances as the Crew’s holding midfielder early in the year. I also know that he served as the University of North Carolina’s captain when the school won the 2011 NCAA title, but that’s about it.
There’s nothing else I can say about Urso as a man or a soccer player, and that saddens me. That’s what makes Urso’s death so tragic. He’ll never have the opportunity to set himself apart on the field. Urso will never have the chance to become a star with the Crew or even the United States men’s national team. At age 22, Urso’s career was just beginning; he hadn’t even scratched the surface of his potential. Now he’s gone, and his family and teammates are left to wonder what might have been.
That’s not to say that Urso didn’t make the best of his opportunities. He was on an MLS roster because he took advantage of whatever chances that came his way. Urso made a strong impact on his teammates this season while starting in six games for the Crew. However, he should have had more time. His life and career are over before they really even got started.
I suppose this story affects me even more than it normally would because I almost lost my father this weekend as well. Seeing him with tubes hooked up to him shook me up more than I could ever say. Sometimes we forget how mortal we really are, but then we’re reminded of our own fragility when young people die and those we love struggle to survive.
You never know when your time will come. Kirk Urso was only 22 years old. He should have had another 15 years to leave his mark on the sport; instead, we’ll never see him take the field again. Do everything you can to make an impact on the lives of those around you while you still can. Life is simply too short and unpredictable to take it for granted.
Derek Ciapala has followed the hometown Columbus Crew since Major League Soccer began play in 1996. His favorite Crew moment is their 3-1victory over the New York Red Bulls to win the 2008 MLS Cup. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala and Facebook.