Friday, November 09, 2012

Espinoza, Vermes, and World Cup Qualifiers

Some notes from the past few days now that the season is over.

Espinoza Confirms Wigan Interest

After the game against Houston on Wednesday, Roger Espinoza confirmed the rumors that had been around since the end of the Olympics, that Wigan Athletic were interested in the Honduran midfielder.  Wigan had been a rumored sutor for both the summer and winter windows for Espinoza, and with Espinoza now out of contract he has a choice to make.  According to Thad, Espinoza has 3 offers on the table, one from Wigan, one from Sporting, and a 3rd from another European team that Espinoza would not name.  Everyone would like Espinoza to stay in Kansas City, but I still believe that in the end, the chance to play in Europe and that bigger pay day will win out in the end and Espinoza will leave Kansas City for greener pastures. 

It's amazing the player Espinoza's turned into during his time here.  He started out as a left winger, converted to a left back, and then finally last year during the Gold Cup for Honduras really showed a penchant for playing in the midfield.  He came back to KC after the Gold Cup and took up the center midfield position, in front of Julio Cesar and helped KC finish on top of the Eastern Conference.  Cesar's staying home allowed Espinoza a free role that let him go all over the field winning tackles and causing trouble. Then this year he was named one of Honduras' overage players for the Olympics.  Honduras advanced into the knock out stages, where they met Brazil.  Espinoza had already had a good tournament, including a stellar performance against Spain in a 1-0 win that helped see Honduras through.  The Brazil game though was Espinoza's coming out party.  He scored Honduras' second goal on a great run and finish that gave Honduras their second lead of the game.  He turned in a man of the match performance that was capped by a red card in stoppage time.  As Espinoza walked off the field though, Brazil players stopped to shake his hand and the crowd at St. James' Park rose to their feet giving Espinoza a standing ovation.  A moment that still when thinking about it gives me goose bumps, I can't imagine how Espinoza feels about it.  If he does leave all I can say is good luck to him and that I might need to pick up an Espinoza jersey for whatever team he ends up with.

Vermes to get extension

Yesterday on Twitter, Robb Heineman posted the above, a day before the 3rd year anniversary of Peter Vermes being given the permanent job as , meaning Peter Vermes will be around KC for a while longer.  Vermes has been doing two roles for KC ever since the firing of Curt Onalfo during the 2009 season after the 6-0 loss to Dallas.  Serving as both coach and technical director, the success or failure of the team when the announcement was made would completely be on him.  He's succeed quite well, especially with the opening of Livestrong Sporting Park.  Vermes has coached the second most games in team history behind Bob Gansler with 110, the third most wins (45), second if you take away Ron Newman's 14 shootout wins.  He's also averaging the most points per game of any coach for KC, currently averaging 1.5 points per game in league play. 

Some of his tactical decisions have been questioned, especially his substitution strategy (or lack there of), but he's also still learning as a coach.  What he really needs to do is get the Dominic Kinnear playoff monkey off his back.  One thing that is hard to argue with his player scouting and signing ability, he's brought in a number of good foreign signings and draft picks that have contributed quite a bit to the team.

Hex Draw Out
While Sporting KC were taking the field vs the Dynamo, CONCACAF was holding the live draw for the final round of World Cup qualifying, the Hex.  Here's the draw.

Feb 6 at Honduras
March 22 Costa Rica
March 26 at Mexico
June 7 at Jamaica
June 11 Panama
June 18 Honduras
Sept 6 at Costa Rica
Sept 10 Mexico
Oct 11 Jamaica
Oct 15 at Panama

You would think that Livestrong Sporting Park is in line for one of those 5 home games.  After the announcement a rumor was making the rounds that Sunil Gulati had said the US would not be hosting Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium.  The rumor that the US is giving this concession for a concession from the Mexican federation, possibly Mexico not playing the game in the middle of the day (I doubt they'd convince them to not play at Azteca).  If that's true, one would think one of the favorites to replace Crew Stadium would be LSP.  Especially after the crowd for the Guatemala game back in October.  Heineman believes that LSP has a very good shot at the Mexico game because Jurgen Klinsmann's feelings on the amenities at the stadium.  If LSP doesn't get Mexico, I still expect KC to get a game, possibly the Costa Rica or Honduras game, or maybe for purposes of the late result potential, put the Jamaica game at LSP. We'll have to see, but the biggest surprise would be no game at all at LSP.

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