News / Americas

Honduran-American Plays for Native Country at World Cup

But Kansas City Wizards star still cheers for US team

Kansas City Wizards star Roger Espinoza will play for his native Honduras in the World Cup.
Kansas City Wizards star Roger Espinoza will play for his native Honduras in the World Cup.

Multimedia

Audio
Brent Latham

The U.S. national soccer team will take the field at this month's World Cup with a talented group of 23 players and high expectations.

But no matter how the team performs, another American soccer story will be written in South Africa, where a small group of Americans will represent other countries on soccer's biggest stage.

Among them is Roger Espinoza, an American citizen born in Honduras. He was selected to play for that country's national soccer team, in the Hondurans' first return to the World Cup in 28 years.

Espinoza grew up in Puerto Cortes on Honduras' Atlantic coast, before moving to the United States with his parents. The 23 year old spent his teen years in the Denver, Colorado area, where he attended high school. He went to Ohio State University on a soccer scholarship before deciding to pursue a professional soccer career.

In the first round of the 2008 Major League Soccer draft, Espinoza was selected by the Kansas City Wizards, and has  become a regular performer for the MLS team.

Kansas City Wizard Roger Espinoza in a game against the DC United soccer team.
Kansas City Wizard Roger Espinoza in a game against the DC United soccer team.

Espinoza's talent draws attention

The midfielder's strong play in the U.S. professional league caught the attention of the Honduran national team about two years ago. Espinoza made his first appearance for the Catrachos, the Honduran team, early last year. He scored a goal while representing the nation of his birth in the Central American championships.

It was a proud moment for Espinoza's family. Even though growing up in the United States Americanized him, he says his family retains its Honduran heritage.

"Since I was born there, I have the culture. I also have the culture of the United States. But I felt I needed to play for Honduras," he explains. "That was the place I belonged to. Playing there is an honor for me. The people in Honduras, just the culture and everything, it makes me happy to play for them."

Espinoza obtained dual nationality when he became an American citizen in 2008. Along with citizenship, he gained a U.S. passport, making the midfielder eligible to play for the American national team in addition to Honduras.

Like other dual-national soccer players, Espinoza faced a choice between his two countries on the field. FIFA, international soccer's governing body, allows a player to represent only one nation at the senior level.

Kansas City Wizards player Roger Espinoza is one of a small group of Americans who will represent other countries in the World Cup.
Kansas City Wizards player Roger Espinoza is one of a small group of Americans who will represent other countries in the World Cup.

"I had to choose one or the other. I have been living here for 10 years. I know everything about the culture in America, but I feel like I belong to Honduras. That's where I was born. That's where I grew up," he says. "And I would say I am better in Spanish language than I am in English. My family does not speak English, so my culture is more Honduran, you know, than it is American."

The Honduran national team's quick action in securing the services of the young player also helped.

Espinoza says there was little interest in him from the American team, which has become the strongest in the region in recent years. So, when the Hondurans came calling, he did not hesitate. And he went on to score a goal against the United States in a January practice match, a performance which helped him earn a spot on the country's World Cup squad.

Still rooting for the USA

His Honduran team affiliation will not stop Espinoza from supporting his other national team at the World Cup.

"I definitely want them to win," he says. "Not just the United States, but I have friends. A lot of guys I play with and I've known my whole life play for the U.S. so, of course, I want them to win. Even [before I was] playing professionally, I wanted the U.S. to win."

After his World Cup experience, Espinoza returns to Kansas City to continue his career in the U.S. league.

But he will have fulfilled the dream of every soccer player: to take the field at the World Cup.

You May Like

Obama: I Will Do 'Everything I Can' to Close Guantanamo

US president says prison continues 'to inspire jihadists and extremists around the world' More

Sierra Leone Educates on Safe Ebola Burials

Also, country is improving at rapid response to isolated outbreaks, but health workers need to be even faster, officials say More

Religion Aside, Christmas Gains Popularity in Communist Vietnam

Increasingly wealthy Vietnamese embrace holiday due to its non-religious glamor, commercial appeal More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Video Washington Week: Focus on Cuba, North Korea

President Obama, lawmakers out of town for holidays but many remain transfixed with US-Cuba thaw, Sony Pictures hack
More

Health Minister Named as Haiti's New Interim Prime Minister

Announcement is part of effort to resolve a mounting political crisis over long-delayed elections
More

Kerry: US-Cuba Thaw Will Advance Interests for Both

Secretary of state says 11 million people of Cuba have waited far too long - more than half a century - to 'fulfill their democratic aspirations' and build closer ties with rest of world
More

Cuba's Famed Cigars Get a Foot in Door of US Market

Under new rules to be implemented soon, US will make it easier for some Americans to travel to Cuba and they will be able to return with $100 worth of alcohol, tobacco
More

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More