October 11, 2012
HE MIGHT RETURN
Espinoza could be ready to play vs. Red Bulls
By Michael Lewis
There is a chance that injured Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza might play against the Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena on Oct. 20.
Espinoza, who sufered a right anterior medial ankle sprained in KC's 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew, is supposed to be sidelined from two-to-four weeks. But earlier this week KC coach Peter Vermes told reporters that the Honduran international might be ready to return for that game.
Espinoza, however, did not making any promises.
“I’ll do my best,,” he said in a conference call earlier this week. “I have a very positive mind every time I get injured to get back as soon as I can. If that’s the case and I am back during that time I will be happy to play. Right now I’m just taking it a day at a time. As soon as I can get ready I’ll be ready.”
Sporting Kansas City (17-7-8, 59 points) needs only a tie to eliminate the Red Bulls (15-9-8, 53) from consideration for the Eastern Conference title. The Red Bulls need to win to keep toward solidifying a playoff berth.
Just getting back to playing sooner than later was the big thing for the 25-year-old Honduran. He was anticipating the worst and got the best possible news of his ankle injury.
“It was scared moments because I had no idea what I really had until the X-Ray and MRI and the doctor was able to tell me what was going on,” Espinoza said on Tuesday afternoon. “It was kind of a relief for me because it hurt a lot and I felt I didn’t know what was going to happen. to me, two weeks or four weeks is not that bad. Missing Honduras has me kind of sad right now. But at the same time, it’s not a long time that I will be out.”
Espinoza, who played a key role for the Central Americans in their quarterfinal finish at the 2012 Summer Olympics, will miss Honduras’ next two World Cup qualifiers — at Panama on Friday and at home in San Pedro Sula next Tuesday.
The Hondurans are tied with Canada for the second and final qualifying spot in CONCACAF Group C with 2-1-1 records and seven points and they need as many healthy players as possible.
Espinoza said missing those matches was “very difficult.”
“These games probably would have been the most important in my career just because it is a very difficult time that Honduras is going through right now in the last two games of the qualifying for the next round,” he said. “I’m pretty sad. At the same time I know that my teammates in Honduras are very good players and I know they can take this forward. Obviously I am a little sad I’m not going to be there. But at the same time I am relieved that my injury is not a long-time injury. it’s a few weeks, it’s not that bad. I’m going to take this forward and do well.”
Espinoza will be forced to watch both games, which he admitted will be nerve-wracking.
“I’ll be very nervous for sure,” he said. “I feel like when I’m not on the field, it’s even more scary for me when you’re watching games. Sometimes I had to watch Sporting and it was very tough. I feel like I gain more anxiety watching the game because you want to be there and play and help your teammates. I’m sure it will be one of those moments with Honduras.
“Obviously, I want Honduras to win. I don’t like to criticize anybody because I have been in that situation. I know how tough it is. Act like I’m a player too. I’m on the bench and I’m watching my teammates. Hopefully, they can do well.”
He suffered the injury during second-half stoppage time in KC’s 1-1 draw with Columbus on Sunday.
“I remember one of my teammates throwing the ball onto the field. It was a throw-in,” Espinoza said fast. “I saw the ball and I thought I could chip the goalie, but the ball kept on going faster and faster. The goalie was already coming out. I thought I could beat him to the ball. By the time I was ready to toe-poke the ball he came right through. That’s all I remember from there. I just remember laying down and my ankle was hurting me a lot.”
Espinoza said it was not the worst injury he has suffered. He had a bone fracture during his rookie year that kept him sidelined for four to six weeks. “That was just the worst,” he said.
The Honduran midfielder worried that it was much worse than an everyday sprain because of the pain he felt.
“That was the problem. I had ankle sprains,” he said. “I knew in the past that that was an ankle sprain. This time it was pretty tough. I couldn’t tell what it was. It was in a totally different spot. It was my deltoid tendons, which I had never hurt before. I felt a lot more painful. I couldn’t get up and walk, so at that time I was scared because I had no idea and the way it happened too. My foot was facing up towards my knee when I tried to toe-poke the ball. I didn’t know what was going on.”