Saturday, August 04, 2012

Espinoza has Monster Game as Honduras Bow Out

Honduras may be leaving the Olympics today after their 3-2 loss to Brazil in the quarterfinals of the soccer tournament, but they'll leave with their heads high, especially Roger Espinoza.  Espinoza had an amazing game and earned himself a standing ovation from the neutral crowd at St. James' Park after he got sent off for his second yellow card in second half stoppage time.

Honduras grabbed a shock lead in the 12th minute, and it was Espinoza that started the play by winning the ball of the Brazilian attacked.  Espinoza played the ball to Maynor Figueroa who played it into the path of Seattle Sounders player, Mario Martinez, who hit a splendid volley into the net.  In the 33rd minute things got much more difficult for Honduras when Wilmer Crisanto was sent off for a second yellow card offense leaving Honduras with 57 minutes to kill while down a man.  It took only 5 for Brazil to take advantage of it, as Leandro Damiao pounced on a chance after Honduras failed to clear their lines.  The two teams went into the half tied at 1-1.

In the second half the Hondurans came out and quickly grabbed the lead back.  Espinoza collected the ball on the right, then cut inside and let loose with a shot along the ground that made it inside the far post putting Honduras back on top a 2-1.  Only 2 minutes later though Brazil was back level after a foul in the box, Neymar stepped up and buried the PK to tie it.  Brazil continued to pressure but looked less than impressive while doing it against 10 men Honduras.  In the 60th minute, Brazil grabbed the lead as Damiao finished off a combination play between Neymar and Oscar.  After that goal Honduras had a few chances to equalize, including one from Espinoza off a corner.  After the initial header was not held, Espinoza reacted first to the loose ball, but a Brazilian defender got a foot out too and the ball went out. 

While Brazil had the better talent and was up a man, Honduras never really looked completely out of the game and it wouldn't have been surprising to see them equalize.  In stoppage time though Espinoza got a second booking for a tackle from behind and got his marching orders.  On his way off though he got handshakes from the Brazilian players and a standing ovation from the crowd in the stands in a moment that gave me chills personally.

The performance by Espinoza was epic and will certainly generate a few calls for Robb Heineman about the availability of getting Espinoza.  I'm pretty sure that Espinoza is currently in the last year of his contract so KC could possibly look to cash in on that now.  And it wasn't just this game, the 3 games he played in the tournament he played very well.  Today's performance was the most proud I've felt for a Sporting KC Wizards player representing their country since Jimmy Conrad's performance in the 2006 World Cup.

Check out his goal below.

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