Sporting's Espinoza reportedly set for winter switch to EPL
Sporting Kansas City appear to be saying goodbye to Roger Espinoza.
The Kansas City Star reported Monday that the midfielder has told manager Peter Vermes he plans to move to Premier League side Wigan Athletic during the upcoming winter transfer window.
Vermes is in Europe on a scouting trip, and a club spokesman told MLSsoccer.com Monday evening that Sporting – who hold Espinoza's contract through the end of the year – would have no official announcement.
Still, team president Robb Heineman's tweet Monday evening indicated that Espinoza is on his way.
“Happy 4 Roger,” Heineman tweeted. “Glad 2 c him get the chance to reach his aspirations. Time for someone 2 step up. I know someone will.”
The 26-year-old Espinoza appeared in 120 regular-season and playoff matches and scored two goals in five seasons with Kansas City, developing from a defender nicknamed “Red-Card Roger” to one of the league's top box-to-box midfielders.
His star turn in the London Olympics, where Honduras reached the quarterfinals before a narrow loss to eventual runners-up Brazil, attracted the attention of Wigan manager Roberto Martinez and led to rumors that he would leave for England during the summer transfer window.
That didn't happen, but Espinoza spoke openly after the Olympics of wanting to play at the highest possible level. And when Sporting's season ended in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Espinoza acknowledged Wigan's interest and said he would evaluate all of his options before deciding on the next step in his career.
Vermes, who is also Sporting's technical director, said late in the regular season that the club had made what he called “a very, very good offer” to retain Espinoza, but did not say whether that included a Designated Player tag.
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.