Espinoza v Chile 2
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Live from SA: USA fans Support Honduras

It’s a classic argument among soccer fans: club vs. country. But once every four years, there can be little debate when a player represents your supported side on the World Cup stage, and today brought that moment for Kansas City Wizards fans across the globe as they watched Roger Espinoza make his World Cup debut in Honduras’ opening match in South Africa.

I saw the game from the lobby of our Johannesburg hotel and was surprised to hear a fellow US fan cheering on Espinoza as well. Come to find out, he was an ‘08 alum of Ohio State and had played in several pick-up matches at the university’s ARC indoor turf field with Espinoza during his collegiate days as a Buckeye.

“It’s crazy to think I used to play against Roger and here I am a few years later watching him play in the World Cup,” said CJ Willey, now a lawyer living in Beijing.

In some sense, it’s a similar feeling as a fan to see a player you’ve watched playing for your hometown club get a chance to shine for their national team at the highest level with all the world watching. Espinoza continues that trend for Wizards fans, who have had KC players to support in every World Cup since the team was established. I don’t know how many other MLS teams can say that, but it should be a point of pride for the club. After all, it’s a pretty impressive list of company that Roger joins: Uche Okafor and Preki (1998), Tony Meola (2002), and Jimmy Conrad, Eddie Johnson, and Josh Wolff (2006).

Though Honduras fell 1-0 to Chile on Wednesday, Espinoza put in a promising performance, including a shot in the 20th minute I momentarily thought was goal bound before deflecting off a defender for a Honduran corner. Perhaps it’s that unlucky #13 shirt he is wearing (there’s a reason no current Wizards players sport that number).

Best of luck to Roger and Los Catrachos the rest of the way.  I’ll always support him in Wizards blue or Honduran blue…unless he scores against the US, like he did earlier this year.

And just like that, we’re back to the club vs. country loyalties.

Hope everyone is getting the most out of KC’s Summer of Soccer. I’ll try to write again after the US-Slovenia game on Friday.