Roger Espinoza took to the training pitch on Monday for his first full session since spraining his right ankle two weeks ago, but the midfielder's availability for Sporting Kansas City's regular-season finale could be a game-time decision.
While he hopes to be back for Wednesday's home match against Philadelphia (8:30 pm ET, NBCSN, live chat on MLSsoccer.com), Espinoza (above, left) was also matter-of fact after Monday's session.
“If the game was right now,” he told MLSsoccer.com, “I couldn't play.”
Espinoza missed Honduras' World Cup qualifiers over the international break and Sporting's scoreless draw on Sunday at New York after being hurt in stoppage time of a 1-1 draw at Columbus on Oct. 7.
“We've still got a few hours before the [Philadelphia] game,” he said. “I'll see how I feel the rest of the day and tomorrow, or even Wednesday morning or later. It was sore at the beginning, like any injury, but it loosened up. I'm taking it slow, though, because you don't know – when you're trying to go forward – if you're going to hurt it again.”
The final decision on Wednesday will likely be Espinoza's, he and manager Peter Vermes said.
“I've been here for a while, and I think Peter knows me,” said Espinoza, who is in his fifth season with Sporting. “I've had sprained ankles before, even though this one's a little different. But the injured guy's the one who should decide, right?”
Not always, Vermes said – but in this case, he can rely on Espinoza not to rush himself back too quickly.
“There are certain guys I know that if they do tell me that they can go, I trust them,” he said. “It just depends on the individual person.”
And while Espinoza didn't play a high-contact role in training on Monday, Vermes said he looked good in his return.
“I didn't see him limping, which sometimes happens,” Vermes said. “I think today was just creating some confidence in the fact that he could go back out there and do it.”