KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Roger Espinoza had hoped to finally shed his “Red Card Roger” nickname this season.
That will have to wait a little while longer.
Espinoza will miss Sporting Kansas City‘s game at Colorado this Saturday, the result of a suspension earned after being sent off for elbowing the Fire's Sebastián Grazzini in the face while pursuing a 50-50 ball in the second half of last weekend’s 2-1 loss at Chicago.
“The way it looks on the video is not the way I went in,” Espinoza told MLSsoccer.com after Tuesday’s training session. “I definitely went to clear the ball, thinking he was going to go, and I put my body really stiff thinking he was going to bump into me. It didn’t happen. It is what it is.”
WATCH: Espinoza catches Grazzini with elbow
It was the first time this year Espinoza had seen so much as yellow for his high-energy, physical play. He was, however, cautioned for delaying a restart in Sporting’s third game.
“My goal this year was not to get any cards,” he said. “My goal is to be as good as I can be for the team, and I was doing pretty well on that.”
And while Espinoza acknowledged room for refinement in his game, he said he has no plans to change his style of play.
“I’m going to go for every ball 100 percent,” he said. “I’m going to try to win it. “
Sporting officials have decided not to appeal the red card, the club’s first of the season.
Manager Peter Vermes had said that the club would look into an appeal, but after Tuesday’s training session, Vermes confirmed that it would not happen “for many reasons.”
Vermes also indicated he did not know who would replace Espinoza in the starting XI for the Rapids match.
“You could say Luke Sassano,” he said. “You could say Paulo Nagamura. You could put Jacob Peterson in the middle. You could go completely different and play a little more defensive. There are a lot of ways to deal with it.”
Sinovic making progress
Left back Seth Sinovic, who is working his way back from surgery on his broken right hand, earned steady marks for his play in Sunday’s 3-1 Reserve League win against Chicago.
“He looked OK,” Vermes said on Tuesday. “Obviously, the pace and everything was a little different, but he was a lot like himself. Obviously, when he’s throwing the ball in, he can’t grab it the way he needs to, but I thought he did a pretty decent job with that, too.
“I think it was good for him,” Vermes added, “because it was a real game. He got to feel what it was like to get stuck in, go for headers and things like that. They didn’t really care that he had a cast on, because they’re not on his team. They don’t care if he gets hurt again.”
Sinovic said the match conditions actually made dealing with the cast easier.
“You don’t have time to worry about it,” he said. “You have too much going on.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.