Memorial fundraiser set for late UNC soccer star Kirk Urso today

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 07:20 PM

Kirk Urso was 22 when he passed away from a congenital heart defect last August. Now three of his former soccer teams — the MLS Columbus Crew, the North Carolina Tar Heels and the USL Carolina Dynamo — have come together for an exhibition game that will raise money for the Urso Memorial Fund.

UNC will play the Columbus Crew today in the inaugural Kirk Urso Memorial Match at UNC Greensboro Soccer Stadium. All proceeds from the 1 p.m. game will go toward the Urso Fund, which supports heart health research and programming.

Urso made the College Cup in all four of his years with the Tar Heels and was the captain of the 2011 NCAA national championship team.

After graduating, the midfielder was the Crew’s first-round pick (10th overall) in the 2012 Supplemental Draft. He made five MLS starts before being sidelined with an injury, and was rehabilitating in Columbus when he suddenly passed away.

UNC coach Carlos Somoano said that Urso serves as an inspiration to his team.

“It’s one of those things that makes you want to be better,” Somoano said. “I want to make sure that I do everything I can to represent what Kirk stood for while he was here, and I want to make sure I do everything I can so that the guys represent what Kirk stood for when he was here.

“He was clearly one of the best student-athletes that we’ve ever had, so that’s hard to do, but he’s a constant reminder for us.”

Tar Heels defender Jonathan Campbell, who also played for the Dynamo, said that Urso is remembered for his leadership and sportsmanship. He’s looking forward to keeping Urso’s memory alive.

“We get the chance to play against a professional team, but also we get to honor Kirk. It’s great both ways,” Campbell said. “It’s cool because you do something you love but you’re also raising money to help people.”

NOTES — Today’s UNC-Columbus match was originally scheduled to be played at MacPherson Stadium in Browns Summit, but the surface was rendered unplayable by rain Friday and Saturday, prompting the move the UNC Greensboro.