As the soccer world turns all eyes to the 2014 FIFA World Cup, a former Aurora prep player will be in the epicenter.
Roger Espinoza — a 2005 graduate of Aurora’s Regis Jesuit High School — is part of the 23-man roster set to play for his native Honduras in the World Cup, which opens Thursday in Brazil.
Honduras, which has qualified for consecutive World Cups for the first time in its history, opens Group E play against France on Sunday at Porto Alegre, Brazil, then matches up with Ecuador on June 20 and Switzerland on June 25. Honduras played to a spirited 0-0 draw with England in a friendly match on June 7 in Miami Gardens, Fla., to warm up.
Espinoza, a 27-year-old who primarily is a defensive midfielder, is currently on the roster with Wigan Athletic in England after he came over from Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer. Shortly after Espinoza arrived on a free transfer in January of 2013, Wigan Athletic was relegated from the English Premier League to the second tier, the Football League Championship.
While playing for Kansas City in 2010, Espinoza — who also played for his country in the 2012 Olympics when it played well before it was eliminated by Brazil — got his first taste of World Cup play when he suited up for Honduras in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Espinoza started as a defensive midfielder in a 2-0 loss to eventual Cup champion Spain and a 1-0 defeat to Chile, while he didn’t play in Honduras’ 0-0 draw with Switzerland.
“It’s something you dream of as a little kid and it makes you think back to all the hard work you did,” he told the Aurora Sentinel a few weeks after returning from South Africa.
“Running in the mountains, running at Red Rocks every day, playing club seasons, winning and losing championships. All the work you did in high school and college was worth it in the end.”
Espinoza was born in Puerto Cortes — hometown to two other famous Honduran footballers in Edgar Alvarez and Julio Cesar “Rambo” De Leon — and spent 12 years there before his parents brought him and his five siblings to the United States.
The family landed in Colorado and put down roots. Espinoza played soccer from the time he arrived, and his talent began to really shine when he attended Denver South High School, where he led the state in scoring in 2003 before he transferred to Regis Jesuit for his senior year.
After playing for the Raiders, Espinoza went on to two seasons at junior college powerhouse Yavapai in Arizona and two more at Ohio State University before Kansas City picked him 11th overall in the 2008 Major League Soccer Superdraft.
Courtney Oakes is Sports Editor of the Aurora Sentinel. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. Facebook: Aurora Prep Sentinel
2014 WORLD CUP GROUP E Schedule
Sunday, June 15
At Brasilia, Brazil
Switzerland vs. Ecuador, Noon
At Porto Alegre, Brazil
France vs. Honduras, 3 p.m.
Friday, June 20
At Salvador, Brazil
Switzerland vs. France, 3 p.m.
At Curitiba, Brazil
Ecuador vs. Honduras, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, June 25
At Manaus, Brazil
Switzerland vs. Honduras, 4 p.m.
At Rio de Janeiro
Ecuador vs. France, 4 p.m.