Sporting Kansas City's Espinoza out up to a month with ankle injury

The Honduran Olympic hero will miss his country's upcoming World Cup qualifiers but should return in time for the MLS playoffs.
Sporting Kansas City midfielder Roger Espinoza will miss the next 2-to-4 weeks after suffering an ankle injury in his club's match against the Columbus Crew on Sunday.

Espinoza collided with Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum in the waning minutes of the 1-1 draw at Crew Stadium and had to be stretchered off the field before being replaced by Aurelien Collin. He was officially diagnosed with a right anterior medial ankle sprain.

As a result of the injury, the 25-year-old Espinoza will miss the club's final two matches of the regular season, but according to a team statement, he is expected to return in time for the MLS postseason. Sporting Kansas City is a point away from ensuring that it won't have to play in the wildcard weekend (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1), and the opening leg of the Eastern Conference semifinals is slated for either Nov. 3 or 4, which is at the end of Espinoza's injury timetable.

The injury is more detrimental to the Honduras national team, which faces Panama and Canada in World Cup qualifiers Oct. 12 and 16, respectively, while looking to cement a place in CONCACAF's final qualifying round. Honduras currently is in second place in Group C, tied with Canada on seven points but ahead by two on goal differential.

The hard-tackling, hard-working Espinoza, who earned worldwide acclaim with his play for Honduras' Olympic team, has started 26 games in central midfield for Sporting Kansas City this season. The club is 1-2-3 in the six matches he has missed and finishes the regular season against the New York Red Bulls and Philadelphia Union.

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