A day after Roger Espinoza was omitted from the Honduras national team’s CONCACAF Gold Cup roster, the Sporting Kansas City midfielder offered a rather simple explanation for it:
It was his choice.
Espinoza, who represented Honduras in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, said he rejected the opportunity to join his home country for the Gold Cup, which runs July 7-26.
“It’s the toughest thing you can do, but physically, I’m still not my best right now. I need to get better,” Espinoza said. “The reason I’ve been on the national team in the past is because of my fitness here with Sporting. So I think to get back to my old days, I need to work hard here, because I still haven’t hit my peak yet.”
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Espinoza said he has been battling physical ailments since the conclusion of the World Cup last summer.
“I think that just took a little bit out of my game,” he said. “I put all of my effort into everything I do. I think I’m just now recovering from all of that.”
Espinoza will remain eligible for the knockout stage of the Gold Cup, even though he will miss group play, but he said Thursday he doesn’t plan to join that portion of the tournament, either.
The decision to bypass a national-team stint is welcome news for Sporting KC, which otherwise would have been without its midfielder for three matches.
The club had four other players named to their countries’ provisional rosters — Matt Besler and Graham Zusi (U.S.), Marcel de Jong (Canada) and Soni Mustivar (Haiti). The final 23-man rosters must be announced by June 23.
“At the end of the day, you play for the national team for love,” Espinoza said. “But at the same time, the team that has given me the opportunities is Kansas City. They’ve always supported me in my career. I think it’s right for me to help the team.
“And when the time is right, if I’m allowed back (with the national team), there would be no hesitation.”