(Jan. 7, 2021) — Sporting Kansas City has re-signed veteran midfielder Roger Espinoza to a new contract for the 2021 MLS season, the club announced today.
Espinoza, 34, has played an instrumental role for Sporting Kansas City over the course of 11 MLS seasons, leading the club to seven playoff appearances and three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championships. Across two separate stints at Sporting — from 2008-2012 and 2015 to present — Espinoza ranks third in club history with 301 competitive appearances and fifth in both starts (271) and minutes (24,025). He has also scored 12 goals and places fifth on Sporting’s all-time charts with 41 assists.
“I’m very excited for the opportunity to return to Sporting and compete for an MLS Cup,” Espinoza said. “Kansas City is a special place where I have spent most of my career and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m proud to continue representing this club and playing for our fans.”
Since the dawn of the Opta era in 2010, Espinoza ranks third in MLS in duels won (1,358) and fifth in tackles won (416) with a single club. The 2012 MLS All-Star is also Sporting’s all-time leader with 21 appearances in the U.S. Open Cup, a heralded domestic tournament he helped the team win in 2012, 2015 and 2017.
The 2020 campaign saw Espinoza tie a career-high with three goals, including his first postseason tally in a thrilling win over the San Jose Earthquakes in the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs on Nov. 22 at Children’s Mercy Park. The midfielder also scored in Sporting’s home-opening 4-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on March 7 and provided the match-winner in a playoff-clinching 1-0 road win at FC Cincinnati on Oct. 28. Espinoza ended 2020 with starts in 16 of 20 appearances as well as two assists, which came in victories against Houston (Oct. 3) and the Colorado Rapids (Oct. 24), respectively.
Espinoza began his professional career in Kansas City as a 2008 MLS SuperDraft selection. After helping the club finish atop the conference standings in 2011 and 2012 — earning MLS All-Star recognition and an Open Cup title in the latter season — he moved abroad for a two-year stint with English side Wigan Athletic. Espinoza bagged three goals in 57 appearances for Wigan while gaining experience in the English Premier League, English Championship and UEFA Europa League. He also guided the Latics to a famous 1-0 upset win over European powerhouse Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.
Following a successful spell at Wigan, Espinoza returned to Sporting ahead of the 2015 campaign and added to his collection of trophies with another Open Cup title that fall. His second stint in Kansas City was further highlighted by a third Open Cup championship in 2017 and first-place Western Conference finishes in 2018 and 2020.
On the international stage, Espinoza has played 52 times for the Honduras Men’s National Team since debuting in 2009. He notably represented Honduras at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, making five starts across the two tournaments. Espinoza also starred for Los Catrachos at the 2012 Summer Olympics in England — leading Honduras to the quarterfinals of the competition and scoring against Brazil — and previously featured at the 2009 and 2011 editions of the Concacaf Gold Cup.
Prior to turning professional, Espinoza spent two years at Yavapai College in Arizona, where he was a Junior College National Player of the Year finalist in 2006. He transferred to Ohio State University for his junior season in 2007 and propelled the Buckeyes to the College Cup, scoring in the national championship game against champions Wake Forest.
Off the field, Espinoza has been an active member of the Kansas City community who has participated in numerous events tied to The Victory Project, the club’s philanthropic foundation dedicated to helping children affected by cancer and all of life’s challenges. He is a spokesperson for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and became a volunteer partner with humanitarian nonprofit Unbound in 2015, conducting soccer clinics in underserved parts of Honduras. Last fall, he rallied support for Hurricane Eta relief by raising awareness and money alongside fellow Hondurans who play in MLS.