Sporting's Espinoza holds out hope for Olympic call-up
KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza went through a few tense moments watching his native Honduras qualify for their second straight Olympics. He’s rather more laid-back about the possibility that he might be called up as one of the Catrachos’ three overage players in London.
“I’m not too worried about it,” Espinoza told MLSsoccer.com on Monday, before Honduras fell 2-1 to Mexico in the final of the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament. “If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. I’m older, and there are a lot of good players in Honduras that could go.
“If I get the opportunity, hopefully, I can go,” he added. “If I don’t, then I’ll be very happy for the rest of the players from Honduras who get to go. They’re all my friends and I know they’ll do their best over there.”
D.C. United midfielder Andy Najar might be Espinoza’s rival on the field during the MLS season, but he’d like to see the World Cup veteran in the Honduras kit come summer.
“He’s a great player and a great person, so if he is on the roster it would be very good for the team,” Najar said. “He always plays with heart and always leaves everything on the field.”
Espinoza’s solid box-to-box play on the left side of Sporting’s midfield is one of the reasons why the club is entering its Saturday matchup against the LA Galaxy (4 pm ET, ESPN, LIVE CHAT on MLSsoccer.com) with a 4-0-0 record, a first in club history.
“Roger’s playing very, very well,” SKC manager Peter Vermes said. “It all comes down to do they want a defensive guy, a playmaker, what they’re looking for and how he fits into what their coaches would need. But Roger’s in form, for sure.”
That has earned the attention of Honduras head coach, Luis Fernando Suárez – perhaps even more so since midfielder Fernando Mejía went down with an ankle injury in Saturday’s 3-2 semifinal win over El Salvador.
“He’s someone we’re aware of,” Suárez said through a translator after Monday’s match. “He’s on the list of people to look at, especially after the injury to Mejía.”
Whether or not he gets the call, Espinoza is proud of Honduras’ accomplishment of bookending its 2010 World Cup trip with two straight Olympic berths.
“We’ve been fighting for a long time,” he said. “We know that the US, Mexico and Costa Rica are definitely countries that are way richer than our infrastructure that we have. We’re definitely fighting as a soccer nation to show that we can do it, too.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.