KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Peter Vermes is glad to see Roger Espinoza keep getting call-ups to play for his native Honduras.
Sporting Kansas City’s manager just hopes Los Catrachos are mindful of the midfielder’s health and club schedule.
“They just had him out for the Olympics, and now they’re bringing him in for an exhibition,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Sunday. “I’m a little bit concerned, but I’m happy for him. He deserves it. I’ve talked to Roger, and if he says he’s fully ready physically and psychologically, then I’m right behind him.”
At least this time, Espinoza doesn’t have to cross an ocean. Honduras will face Argentine power Boca Juniors on Wednesday in Miami, in a tune-up for a World Cup qualifying match against Cuba on Sept. 7.
“I guess the coach just wants to get us ready and get some games before we play Cuba,” Espinoza said after Saturday night’s 2-1 home victory over D.C. United. “I don’t know why we’re playing a club team, but it is what it is. I’m OK with it. Boca Juniors is a very good team with a lot of history.”
Espinoza was a key figure in Honduras’ surprising run to the Olympic quarterfinals, where he had a goal and an assist in a 3-2 loss to eventual runners-up Brazil.
He returned to Kansas City last week, just in time to go all 120 minutes in last Wednesday’s US Open Cup final victory over Seattle, and then went 89 minutes against United – all despite a mild shoulder injury he picked up in the Brazil match.
“I just want them to be respectful of the fact that Roger is playing full-time here,” Vermes said. “A lot of players are coming in who weren’t in that Olympic group – probably two-thirds of them – so I just want them to be respectful of the fact that players like him need a rest as well.”
Despite his grueling schedule of late, though, Espinoza is looking forward to his time with Honduras.
“Every time I get to go to the national team, I get to see my people,” he said. “My Honduran jokes work over there. They don’t work over here. I can say whatever I want over there, and they’ll laugh.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.