SKC's Espinoza could return for final regular-season games
Roger Espinoza is guaranteed to miss Honduras' upcoming World Cup qualifiers with a sprained right ankle, but Sporting Kansas City haven't given up on getting the midfielder back in time for their last two regular-season games.
“It's all going to depend on how Roger goes over the next couple of weeks,” manager Peter Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Tuesday. “That's really what it is. He has a sprained ankle. It's not that big a thing, He just pinched a little area between two bones. It's up to him and the trainers when he comes back.”
Espinoza is expected to be out from two to four weeks, the team said Monday.
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He was hurt late in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Columbus, when he collided with Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum in second-half stoppage time.
“I thought I could chip the goalie,” Espinoza said in a conference call on Tuesday. “But the ball kept going faster and faster, and when I looked the goalie was already coming out. I thought I could beat him to the ball, but by the time I tried to toe-poke the ball, he came right through.”
Espinoza had to be stretchered off, raising early fears of a more serious injury.
“It was tough,” he said. “I didn't know what was going on. I thought it was broken at one point. Then thought it was just sprained. I told one of my teammates – it was Kei [Kamara] – that I thought it was broken, and Kei said 'No, don't worry. Be positive. Everything's going to come out right.' Then the trainers said, 'Do you want to walk out?' and I couldn't get up, so I started worrying a little more. Obviously, I was very scared at that moment.”
The diagnosis of a sprain, though, reassured Espinoza that he'll be back on the pitch soon.
“To me, two to four weeks isn't that bad,” he said. “It's missing Honduras that has me kind of sad right now.”
Before his injury, the 25-year-old Espinoza had been expected to join Honduras this week for qualifying matches against Panama on Friday and Canada on Oct. 16.
“These games probably would have been the most important of my [international] career, because Honduras is going through a difficult time,” said Espinoza, who played for his country at the 2010 World Cup and starred at the London Olympics this past summer. “I'm pretty sad, but I know my teammates with Honduras are very good players and I know they can take us forward and do well.”
Sporting have two regular-season matches remaining, at New York on Oct. 20 and at home against Philadelphia on Oct. 24. If Espinoza can't come back for them, Vermes said his midfield corps is deep enough to take up the slack.
“We have a plethora of choices,” he said. “I'm not by any means sitting here trying to figure out what we're going to do. Not even close.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.