When Roger Espinoza went down on Sunday late in Sporting Kansas City's 1-1 draw with Columbus, many fans held their breath. Especially when the team's unquestioned midfield engine had to be helped off the field in a stretcher grasping at his lower leg after a seemingly innocuous tackle.
Exhale. The prognosis today (a right anterior medial ankle sprain) isn't fantastic, but it's a lot better than it could've been. He'll miss two to four weeks of action. That will, in essence, rule him out of this week's World Cup qualifiers for Honduras and the remaining two MLS matches of the season.
While Kansas City will definitely miss the Honduran down the final stretch (probably not as much his country will miss him this weekend however), there is a positive side to this.
Manager Peter Vermes was going to have to find time in the next two games for both Bobby Convey and Jacob Peterson (each are returning from injuries themselves).
With Espinoza out, Vermes can move Graham Zusi (or give him a bit of much-needed rest) back to his natural spot in the midfield and give Peterson or Convey valuable minutes.
Sporting Kansas City won't be able to make a deep run in the MLS playoffs without having talent on the bench. Getting those two players back into form will vastly improve Vermes' match day options. This could also mean more minutes for 20-year-old Spanish midfielder Oriol Rosell. Which is another potential bonus.
Of course, that's trying to put a positive spin on some bad news. And, of course, a completely healthy Espinoza is probably even more important than roster flexibility. So, here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Roger.