New England Soccer Today

McCarthy Remembers Fallen Friend Urso


Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy switched from number 26 to 15 during the offseason as a tribute to his friend and former Crew midfielder Kirk Urso, who passed away last summer. (Photo: Kari Heistad/

August 5 will never be a normal day for Revolution center back Stephen McCarthy. And you get the sense that he never wants it to be, either.

A year ago today, McCarthy’s friend and former North Carolina Tar Heel teammate Kirk Urso unexpectedly died from cardiac arrest. He was 22.

In memory of his friend, McCarthy changed his number from 26 to 15 – Kirk’s number for the Columbus Crew – during this past offseason not only to remember him, but for other reasons that are just as dear to his heart.

“Every time I step on the field before a game,” McCarthy told last week. “I look up and know that he’s there and watching. I’m playing for him and for his parents, too, because they need somebody to still watch and (root for). So I try to do that for them and for him.”

McCarthy had the Revolution’s July 20 match in Columbus circled on his calendar, hoping to play in front of Kirk’s parents, who planned to attend the match.

But a head injury suffered during the Revolution’s July 17 game in Colorado kept McCarthy on the bench. Even so, the third-year pro still felt his friend’s presence at the stadium in which Kirk started his promising professional career last season.

“It was pretty emotional being in Columbus and with Kirk’s parents being at the game,” McCarthy said.

In a way, the number 15 on his back is more than just a tribute to his friend, whom he met shortly after he transferred from Santa Clara in 2010. It is an outward sign to Kirk’s parents that their son’s presence will remain on the pitch wherever McCarthy goes. For McCarthy, it is a responsibility he takes quite seriously.

Even though McCarthy didn’t get to play in Columbus two weeks ago, he’s already looking  ahead to the next time the Revolution return to Crew Stadium.

“I’m praying that I can play (the October 27 season finale) because his parents were there to watch me, so I felt pretty bad that I couldn’t play that game,” McCarthy said. “But hopefully I get the chance towards the end of the season.”

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