COLUMBUS, Ohio – Discussions continued Thursday afternoon to make the logistics work as Columbus Crew players made their wish known.
“They want to be at the funeral,” Crew head coach Robert Warzycha said.
Services for rookie midfielder Kirk Urso, who died unexpectedly Sunday morning, will take place Saturday in Lombard, Ill. A wake is scheduled there Friday.
Getting to and from the Chicago suburb is problematic because the Crew host Toronto FC on Saturday night (7:30 pm ET, watch LIVE online). The funeral will be held at noon ET with kickoff against Toronto set for more than seven hours later.
In all likelihood, the team and staff would have to use charter flights.
“We’re trying to get everybody up there and back in time to play a game on Saturday,” Crew technical director Brian Bliss told MLSsoccer.com. “The conversations are about what makes sense to the family, the team and the competition side and marry all three of those to satisfy everybody.”
Midfielder Chris Birchall said the players want to play the game to honor the memory of Urso.
WATCH: Heavy hearts in Columbus
“Depending on our transport back will obviously decide whether the game will be played,” Birchall said. “We’ve trained all week as if we will. We’re trying to get through it, trying even to have a few smiles on our faces to pull each other through.”
If the transportation issue can be resolved, one possible solution would be to delay the start of the match an hour or so to allow the Crew time to return and regroup.
The precedent was set June 30 when storms knocked out power to Crew Stadium for most of the day. Electricity was only restored late in the afternoon and the kickoff against Real Salt Lake was pushed back 60 minutes.
Help on the way?
Columbus haven't given up hope that new Designated Player Federico Higuaín can make his debut on Saturday.
He was expected to get his papers to leave Argentina on Wednesday, but a snafu delayed the process.
“There’s a hold up because his information is not in the system [at the Argentine consulate],” Bliss said. “He went for his appointment as scheduled Wednesday. When he got there they said, ‘Great, but we don’t have you in the system.’ We’re hoping it gets updated today and he can go back in and get it done.
“We’ve still got a flight held for him on Friday if everything goes all right,” Bliss continued. “If it doesn’t, we have to push it off till Monday because the consulate doesn’t work Saturdays and Sundays and maybe he can fly out Monday night.”
Warzycha said he would consider using the forward, who was signed July 27, if he is available against Toronto.
“It would be nice to have him,” Warzycha said. “He’s fit. He went through preseason with his team. It would be extra motivation and a lift for the guys.”
If not Saturday, Higuain’s next opportunity could come on Wednesday, Aug. 15 vs. LA.