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Aug 15, 2012

Crew to honor Kirk Urso before game

The Columbus Crew are finally going to take the field again after the shocking death of Kirk Urso.

The Crew had their weekend game postponed due to the death of the rookie midfielder and will be back in action Wednesday night at home against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

The 22-year-old Urso was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m. on Aug. 5 at a hospital after he collapsed at a downtown Columbus bar and restaurant. Police were called to the scene at about 12:50 a.m.

On Monday, a coroner said signs pointed to "an apparent natural death" pending results from toxicology tests and on other tissue after an autopsy.

Saturday's game with Toronto FC was postponed to allow the Crew time to grieve after Urso's funeral that day. Columbus would have had time to return home to play the contest but felt that playing a different day was a better option.

"It was the best thing not to from that standpoint," midfielder Eddie Gaven told the league's official website. "It was good we could focus on Kirk and his family and not have in the backs of our heads knowing we have to come back and play a game several hours after putting him to rest."

The Crew (8-8-4), who returned to practice Monday, plan to honor Urso before this game.

"We're rested," midfielder Chris Birchall said. "We've had time to connect as a unit and give our farewell to Kirk. Hopefully, we can go on and give a good performance (for) him."

Birchall played the previous three seasons for Los Angeles (11-11-3) and will face his former teammates for the first time.

Columbus has played the fewest games in MLS and sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

The Crew play seven times in the next 21 days, a stretch that begins against last year's MLS Cup finalists -- Los Angeles and Houston. They are confident based on strong efforts against the league's best teams, including a 2-0-1 mark versus the top three in the West -- San Jose, Salt Lake and Seattle.

"This team, we step up to the big dogs," forward Justin Meram said. "Look at San Jose on the road, Seattle on the road, and Real Salt Lake: against the top-level teams in the league, we get results."

The Galaxy, however, have taken the last four meetings with the Crew.

David Beckham has played once at Columbus in his career, back in 2008. It's unclear whether the star midfielder will travel to Ohio after skipping Sunday's 4-0 victory over Chivas USA to attend the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics.

The Galaxy's official Twitter account said Beckham was absent "with the full support of (coach) Bruce Arena and the entire LA Galaxy organization."

Los Angeles cruised without him, as Landon Donovan assisted on all the goals -- two by Juninho -- to take over the league lead with 11.

"Landon really was focused on playing well," Arena said. "When he wants, he's as good as any player in this league."

The Galaxy currently own the West's fifth and final playoff spot, one point behind Seattle and Vancouver. They have 10 days off from MLS play after this contest.

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