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Thursday 16 August 2012

First Person View – A Matter of Taste

    I made a mistake the other day.

    I’ve delayed in posting this as I battled with the self-aggrandizing aspect of its nature; not sure if this comes across as furthering the issue or truly apologizing. Hopefully it is the latter.

    I decided to finally post it having watched the tribute video prepared for last night’s match in Columbus, which you can find at the bottom.

    Upon hearing the news late Thursday night that Columbus, Toronto, and MLS had come to the decision to postpone Saturday nights match to allow the Crew to travel to Chicago to attend Mr. Urso’s funeral, I tweeted that the extra fixture congestion that TFC will be taking on will remove any advantage they have heading into a crucial CONCACAF Champions League match against Santos Laguna.

    Santos faces a tricky home test in the league against UNAM Pumas (August 18th) followed by their opening CCL match at home to CD Aguila (August 21st) before heading into Pachuca on Saturday (25th) before they come to Toronto on Tuesday (28th).

    Toronto was scheduled to have a week-long break between matches - at home to Kansas City (August 18th), then away to Houston (August 25th) before returning home to face the Mexican opponents on Tuesday.

    Postponing the Columbus date means that Toronto will now face a run of six matches in seventeen days – a match roughly every three days. The important Champions League date falls fifth in that run, after trips to Columbus and Houston and is followed by a difficult away trip to Kansas City.

    The likelihood of picking up any league points – or properly preparing for Santos – over that trying stretch is virtually nil, thereby giving up on the league season and making the important home match in regional play – a match that they must win to have any chance of moving on in the CCL - that little bit more difficult.

    The scheduling has been unkind to Toronto. They have already played ten extra matches – including the Liverpool friendly - in addition to their league campaign, seldom having much time to recuperate or address concerns on the practice fields between fixtures: matches every three days has been a regular occurrence.

    I qualified my statement by beginning with a complete agreement with the decision to postpone the match – it was the right thing to do, no argument about that and the compassion displayed by the club is worthy of praise.

    But I feel that surely there was a better date to accommodate the rescheduling. Upcoming World Cup Qualifiers – in September and October - have indeed made the task tricky, but it strikes me that a match on October 3rd or 4th would have fit better.

    Both teams have matches on September 29th then have the week off until Toronto plays on Saturday, October 6th while Columbus plays the next day.

    All that being said, I found myself feeling quite ashamed of the thoughtless complaint.

    It’s ok to cheer for your club and to worry about their fixtures and form and whatnot, but sometimes there are things that are more important.

    I am proud that my club recognized that, even if I momentarily forgot to.

    The offending tweet has been deleted - not sure how I feel about that cowardly act, but I suppose it has prompted this.

    I’ve abstained from writing anything about Kirk’s passing; I normally prefer to reserve comment for conversations I feel I can add a particular point of view. But the event of his death was anything but normal.

    I woke up last Sunday morning to twitter talk of his death, checking my phone whilst still in bed, as I am wont to do.

    I must say I was taken aback; shocked.

    I actually didn’t believe it was true. Perhaps I couldn’t believe it to be so.

    When anybody so young and so full of promise leaves too soon, well, tragedy doesn’t seem to do the situation justice.

    Being an avid observer of MLS, I had the fortune to watch his surprise inclusion in the first several matches of the Crew’s season and even - as luck of the calendar would have it – to watch him take the pitch in person against TFC in their first meeting.

    It must be said that his performances belied his lowly draft position and unheralded entry into the league.

    GolTV opened their Tuesday program of “Football Today” with a touching remembrance of the young man, including some footage from an emotional goal and celebration for North Carolina and his stepping off the team bus with trophy in arm.

    He seemed so full of life and as all the tributes pouring in from teammates and friends evidenced, he was much loved.

    I apologize sincerely for thinking of trivial things such as matches and schedules at a time such as this. My condolences and thoughts go out to his family, friends, the club and organization at such a trying time.

    What follows are the words I wrote about him in preparation for that match back at the end of March:
Kirk Urso should maintain his position sitting deep in the midfield.

Urso and Mirosevic have been their dead-ball platoon, sharing free and corner kick duties - with Urso taking all eight of their corners and providing service from deep and out wide - thereby allowing Mirosevic to get on the end of the ball in such situations that a direct attempt on target from the set-piece is not available.

Though peculiar for a first-year professional to be given the responsibility of set-piece deliveries, Urso has shown himself to have a nice shape on his service, the composure and the accuracy to be given that responsibility.
    It is a terrible shame that those – and these - are the few words I will have spilled to encapsulate a man.

    Rest in Peace, Kirk.

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