Written by Colby Leachman in 2013
Edited by Deemer Class in 2015
Defensive Midfielder, #15, 28 Years Old
Espinoza was born in the small coastal city, Puerto Cortes in Honduras. However, his stay in Honduras was short lived when, at the age of 12, his parents decided to relocate to Denver, Colorado. Football has always been one of Espinoza’s greatest passions and during High School he became one of the top High School players in Colorado(1).
After High School, Espinoza continued his soccer career at Yavapai College. He became an integral part of Yavapai team but after two years, Espinoza decided to transfer to the more competitive Ohio State program. At Ohio State, Espinoza found success almost immediately. He led the team to College Cup final and was selected to the All-Big Ten first team, and second team All-region. After his immensely successful first season Espinoza decided to forgo his final year of eligibility and he announced his decision to participate in the MLS Super Draft (2).
His early exit from college soccer was a welcomed sight for many as MLS teams crooned over Espinoza’s tenacious mid-field play and his terrific passing ability. During the Super-Draft, the Kansas City Wizards selected Espinoza 11th overall (3). Upon signing with the club, Espinoza joined the Generation Adidas Program, which forced him to stay in the MLS for a minimum of two years.
Espinoza continued to excel while at Kansas City. By the 2010-2011 campaign Espinoza became cemented in the Wizard’s starting line up. Around the league, players and coaches alike were quick to notice his ability to break-up midfield play and find outlet players. As Espinoza’s production continued into the following two seasons, his stock on the international market began to rise (4).
In 2012, the English Premier league club, Wigan Athletic, signed Espinoza on a free-transfer deal from the Kansas City Wizards. Espinoza left the MLS club after making over 100 club appearances. Since joining Wigan, Espinoza has yet to find a consistent role in the team but has managed 12 appearances with one goal.
Espinoza’s international career began shortly after his selection in the Super Draft, making his first appearance in 2009 UNCAF Nations Cup. However, it wasn’t until his fine form for Kansas City in 2011-2012 that he became a quintessential part of the Honduran team. In the 2012 Olympics, Espinoza led the Hondurans to the quarterfinals of the tournament. His play was widely regarded as some of the best in the Olympics (5). Even Wigan Manager, Robert Martinez, cited the Olympics as a major reason for Espinoza’s signing with the club. He told reporters that; “The Olympics in the summer gave a great example of what he can do on the pitch, especially in his performances against Brazil and Spain (4).”
Since his outstanding Olympic performance, Espinoza has become the catalyst for Honduran success. His tenacious tackling and ability to anticipate passes works well within the hard, non-stop form of play by the Hondurans. Honduras entered the 2014 World Cup with high expectations for the team and Espinoza. Soccer is a huge part of Honduran culture and success at the World Cup would have immortalizes the Honduran national team. However, the road to success was very difficult and the critics outside of South America proved to be right having Honduras not advance.
Honduras (41st in the world heading into the World Cup) was the lowest ranked nation in their group by a large margin. Switzerland, France, and Ecuador are all within the top 25 of the world. In order for Honduras to have advanced, Espinoza would have had to replicate his performance (if not better it) in the London Olympics, in addition to great play from his teammates. In this World Cup, the rankings proved right. Against these striker heavy teams, Espinoza and company had a difficult time controlling the mid-field and stifling prolific players such as forward Enner Valencia (Ecuador), Benezma (France), and midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri (Switzerland). Honduras finished 0-3 in group play, allowing 8 goals and only scoring 1. Benezma scored 2 for the French, while Valencia scored both goals for Ecuador in a 2-1 victory and Shaqiri had a hat trick for the Swiss in a 3-0 shutout. While certainly not fair to fault one player for the failure of a team, all 3 countries had their way with Honduras and displayed spectacular individual goal scoring efforts against a porous defense.
How to cite this article: “Honduras: Roger Espinoza” Written by Colby Leachman (2013), World Cup 2014, Soccer Politics Blog, Duke University, http://sites.duke.edu/wcwp (accessed on (date)).