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.


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

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Making a Minti
October 07, 2015 4:17 AM
While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video Self-Driving Cars Getting Closer

We are at the dawn of the robotic car age and should start getting used to seeing self-driving cars, at least on highways. Car and truck manufacturers are now running a tight race to see who will be the first to hit the street, while some taxicab companies are already planning to upgrade their fleets. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Clinton Seeks to Boost Image Before Upcoming Debate

The five announced Democratic party presidential contenders meet in their first debate next Tuesday in Las Vegas, Nevada. Former secretary of state Hillary Clinton continues to lead the Democratic field, but she is getting a stronger-than-expected challenge from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.

Video Music Brings Generations Together

When musicians over the age of 50 headline a rock concert, you expect to see baby boomer fans in the audience. Boomer rock stars have boomer fans. Millennial rock stars have millennial fans. But this isn’t always the case. Take the Lockn’ Music festival which took place in mid-September in rural Arrington, Virginia. Here, Jacquelyn de Phillips discovered two generations of people who are considered quite different in the outside world, spending 4 days together in music-loving harmony.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video South Carolina Reels Under Worst-ever Flooding

South Carolina is reeling from the worst flooding in recorded history that forced residents from their homes and left thousands without drinking water and electricity. Parts of the state, including the capital, Columbia, received about 60 centimeters of rain in just a couple of days. Authorities warn that the end of rain does not mean the end of danger, as it will take days for the water to recede. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Luxury Birthing Clinics Spur Cesarean 'Epidemic' in Brazil

Authorities want to turn the tide on what Health Ministry officials have called an 'epidemic' of cesareans births in the country, with Brazil now the world's No. 2 recipient of C-sections, 2nd only to China

Syrian Refugee in Uruguay Douses Self With Gas in Protest

Last year, South American nation of 3.3 million took in five Syrian families as refugees, but they have complained of high costs of living there, lack of government help

Kerry Meets with Haiti Officials on Election Preparations

US secretary of state, who met with outgoing President Michel Martelly, other officials stressed that legitimate transfer of power can only be achieved through free and fair elections

Guatemala to Investigate Who Is to Blame in Mudslide

Report last November warned of dangerous conditions, urged area residents be moved, but they were allowed to remain; hundreds remain missing after hillside gave way last week

US Arrests Former Senior UN Official for Bribery

John Ashe was Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to UN from 2004 until his election as president of 68th session of the General Assembly in 2013

Colombian Prosecutor Calls for Probe of Ex-president Uribe

Supreme Court is asked to investigate whether he was linked to massacre carried out by paramilitaries in Antioquia state in 1997