By Ryan Wright
Earlier today, Sporting Kansas City officially announced the signing of 28 year old midfielder Roger Espinoza.
Espinoza began his professional career with Sporting KC in 2008 when he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLS superdraft. He joined Wigan Athletic in England after he left Sporting KC in 2012.
“This summer, my contract was coming to an end and I had a year left. I had to think about what I wanted to do,” Espinoza said during today’s press conference.
“I already had the experience of playing in Europe, I wanted to know what it was like to play there. I had a year left and I looked for somewhere to go. I spoke to Peter about coming back and to see if there was room at the club, and he wanted me back.”
In 2012 – Espinoza’s last season with Sporting KC during his four-year spell at the club, he was named a MLS All-Star. During his original stint with Sporting KC, he made 130 appearances with two goals and 12 assists across all competitions.
After moving to Wigan, Espinoza helped the club upset Manchester City in the 2012-13 FA Cup final. In the following season, he helped defend the club’s FA Cup title by once again upsetting Manchester City.
He also led Wigan to a semi-final appearance against the eventual champions, Arsenal. Espinoza made 57 appearances during his time in England with Wigan.
“It’s changed me a lot. Obviously [I left] two years ago to play in the Premier League. While I was there, I had the opportunity to win the FA Cup,” said Espinoza.
“Honestly, that changed my career. You win that type of game, in that type of atmosphere with all the media, it changes you as a player, it gives you more responsibility.
“I had experience in the Premier League and the League Championship, which was a very tough league. It wasn’t easy for me but I learned a lot from the managers, and I think that helps you as a player.”
Espinoza has not only been a successful player on the club level but he’s also an established international player. Espinoza has made 45 appearances for Honduras and has scored four goals.
He’s represented his country at the 2010 World Cup, the 2012 Summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.
At today’s press conference, Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes said: “Roger was a big part of us establishing ourselves in Kansas City and Major League Soccer.
“Now Roger returns to a club that has continued its evolution and he has the ability to help take us to the next level. It is rare for a player to leave a club and then come back, but this situation from day one has been great and we are very happy for Roger to don the Sporting Kansas City jersey again.”
Espinoza also spoke of his delight on his return to Kansas City: “I’m thrilled to be back in Kansas City. I always knew I would come back some day and I could not be more excited to re-join this club. I’m ready to get back to work and help this team win another championship.”
Espinoza will be added to Sporting Kansas City’s 2015 roster pending receipt of his International Transfer Certificate.
This is yet another signing in a busy offseason for Sporting Kansas City. So far, the club has signed defender Jalil Anibaba, midfielder James Marcelin, and forward Krisztian Nemeth. They have also signed Dom Dwyer to a contract extension.
Sporting KC isn’t done adding new players to the roster. Vermes told media: “This isn’t the final piece. The roster is fluid. It’s always breathing; it has to have new opportunity; it has to have new life in it; it has to have fresh bodies in it.”
The front office at Sporting Kansas City seem to be doing everything they can during the offseason to put themselves in prime position for another MLS Cup title and the return of Roger Espinoza could be a vital addition.
Will Roger Espinoza help Sporting Kansas City get back to the MLS Cup Final in 2015?