First, the guarded good news from Sporting Kansas City:
Roger Espinoza's ankle injury might not be as serious as initially feared, although his call-up for Honduras' impending World Cup qualifiers might be on hold.
Espinoza had to be stretchered off in stoppage time of Sporting's 1-1 draw at Columbus on Sunday, after colliding with Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum. But in the postgame, manager Peter Vermes said that the midfielder might only have hyperextended his ankle.
“It's hard to tell you exactly, but I think he's going to be okay,” Vermes told MLSsoccer.com by phone. “They think he just dorsiflexed his ankle a little past the point. We'll have to see, but I think he's going to be all right.”
Dorsiflexion is the process of raising the top of the foot toward the shin.
Espinoza will be checked out on Monday in Kansas City by team doctors, Vermes said.
“We're going to have to assess where he sits,” Vermes said, before deciding whether to release Espinoza for international duty. “We'll make that decision [Monday], after the doctors see him.”
The bad news from the draw, which Columbus salvaged with Eddie Gaven's stoppage-time header, is that Sporting are all but out of Supporters’ Shield contention. They now trail San Jose by five points with two matches to go.
And with Chicago just three points back of the East leaders, the battle for home field advantage through the conference playoffs is also tighter than when the weekend began.
Still, Vermes – whose team is unbeaten over its last 10 league matches – was matter-of-fact about the result.
“I thought we should have gotten a second goal to close the game out,” he said. “I think that was the one piece we didn't get. But all in all, I thought we played well. It was unfortunate to give up the goal late, but it was a good effort by the guys and we're still moving forward.”
Vermes will give his team three days off at the start of the international break, returning to training on Thursday. And when they come back, he said, the emphasis won't be on the chances that got away on Sunday.
“We're going to stay focused, concentrate on what we've got to do,” he said. “I don't know too many teams that go away from home and aren't happy to come away with a point. Today, we almost stole three and they still have to chase us.”