Columbus, OH – Black armbands and a patch with the number 15 will feature prominently for the Columbus Crew on Wednesday.
For the first time since the death of midfielder Kirk Urso, Columbus will play soccer. Urso died Aug. 5 after collapsing at a Columbus bar and restaurant. He was 22. Urso wore the number 15 jersey.
Columbus was scheduled to host Toronto FC on Saturday, but MLS rescheduled the match due to the funeral of Urso in Illinois.
The Crew will also have a video tribute and a moment of silence for Urso, then turn its attention to the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy.
Columbus (8-8-4) will play Los Angeles (11-11-3) at Crew Stadium to begin the healing process.
"Not that we're ever going to totally move on from what happened with Kirk," Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven said on the league's website, "but hopefully we get a little bit of closure from the funeral and move on to the rest of the season starting Wednesday."
Urso died of natural causes, according to initial reports, but further tests are pending. He made six appearances for Columbus this season, including five starts.
Crew coach Robert Warzycha knows it will be a tough night for the club.
"It's going to be an emotional game," Warzycha said. "I am sure the guys are going to play extremely, extremely hard."
Columbus has played the fewest matches in MLS this year and the emotional game against Los Angeles will start a key stretch on the field. The Crew play seven games over the next 21 days.
Columbus will try improve on its 5-3-1 home record against a Los Angeles squad without Landon Donovan because of national team duty. David Beckham could also be absent, as he has missed time recently due to his role in the Olympics.
Without Beckham on Sunday, Los Angeles beat Chivas USA, 4-0. The Galaxy are in fifth in the Western Conference and a win would move it to third ahead of both Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Columbus is seventh in the Eastern Conference and eight points out of the last playoff spot. But with at least two matches in hand on all of its competitors, and as many as six, the Crew are in a good position down the stretch.