Off the Pitch with Sporting KC Midfielder Roger Espinoza

“Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza is coming home!” and “He’s Back!” are just a few headlines that appeared all across social media shortly after the official announcement was released that Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza was set to return home with Sporting Kansas City after a 2-year-long stint with Wigan Athletic F.C. in England.

 

 

Several Kansas City and national news outlets showed their support for the Honduran player.

 

 

“[I am] very happy. Makes me feel I am still wanted back in town but just happy to be back,” said Espinoza while looking at an article written about his return from a local KC Hispanic magazine.

 

 

Roger first earned his name with club when he was drafted to the Kansas City Wizards in the 2008 MLS Super Draft. As a rookie, he played 22 games with 12 starts and tied for third on the team with 3 assists, as well, recording started 6 games and 2 assists for the reserve team, naming him 2008 Rookie of the Year.

 

 

“Always dream big,” Espinoza said.

 

 

As a young child, Roger dreamed of having the opportunity to play in the English Premier League. Following the 2012 season, his dream came true when he joined Wigan Athletic F.C., a smaller club located in Wigan, Greater Manchester. One year later, Wigan Athletic would go on to win the FA Cup against one of English Premier’s top teams Manchester City F.C.

 

 

“The FA Cup was like the mini Super Bowl over there. It was an experience I will never forget. We got to play against one of the best teams in the world, Manchester City,” said Espinoza while reflecting on his time in England. “[They were] one of the smallest teams to ever win the FA Cup.”

 

 

Having named playing the FA Cup as one of his best experiences, Espinoza continues to be one of the most decorated players in the world. He is an MLS All-Star in 2012, helped Sporting KC win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup later that year, and won the U.S. Open Cup title again on Sept. 30 in Philadelphia. Along having won the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic F.C. in 2013, he also played on the Honduras National Team for the 2012 summer Olympics and two FIFA World Cups.

 

 

“It’s hard to [choose] one from another,” Espinoza said. “They all mean a lot and all [have] the same feeling it doesn’t change from FA Cup to the Olympics to the World Cups. I am just happy to be apart of it.”

 

While still recovering from a sesamoid fracture he suffered due to a tackle by Houston Dynamo midfielder Nathan Sturgis on August 1st, Roger has partnered up with Unbound, a humanitarian organization.

 

 

Unbound is the largest nonprofit organization in Kansas City, working side by side with people of diverse faith in 20 countries, by sponsoring families, especially kids who go to school.

 
“They help children attend school to finish to their education or will assist a family financially,” Espinoza said.
For example, a father trying to start a small business and Unbound will provide financial assistant until the family can support the business on their own.

 

 

By the end of the year, Roger hopes to travel to Honduras with Unbound to assist with clinics, mentor children and hopes to inspire kids by telling his life story including his experiences of living in Honduras and his journey to the United States.

 

 

“As a kid you have many dreams and to have a better county, you need to start with the kids,” Espinoza said.

 

 

After completing a morning session of physical therapy, Roger enjoys grilling, going out with friends to dinner and/or to experience one of Kansas City’s many activities, watch college football games, especially his alma mater team, the Buckeyes from Ohio State University and spending time with his English bulldog Chulo.

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