Possibly one of the most popular internationals on Sporting Kansas City's roster - Roger Espinoza
Since Peter Vermes took over as head coach of the Kansas City Wizards almost 3 years ago a lot of changes occurred to the small, relatively unknown football club located in the heart of the Midwest. Some of the highlights of those changes include the now infamous name change from the Kansas City Wizards to Sporting Kansas City and the fantastic LIVESTRONG Sporting Park being built. However along with the changes came a new team, in-fact only 7 players remain from that 2009 team that finished at an embarrassing 3rd to last in the MLS.
With the new players and manager the team began to look like a decent, well-built squad and in 2010 the Kansas City Wizards earned a respectable 3rd place finish in the Eastern Conference. From that season onward we began to see something that was to be carried into the 2011 season and now is being carried into the 2012 campaign. Something that Peter Vermes has never given up on - even in the heat of that fateful 2009 summer when he grabbed the helms and didn't look back - attacking soccer.
But to bring attacking soccer to Kansas City Peter Vermes will have to look outside the confines of America's cozy shores and into the abyss of Europe and South America.
Let's go back to that 2009 season and take a look at the squad. The only international players on Kansas City's team at the time were Kei Kamara, and Roger Espinoza. And there were only 7 players that were not born in America. That's a far cry from where the team is now with an astounding 14 players from countries other than America. If you do the math that's half the team's squad that isn't from this country, not surprisingly that's the same ratio it was in the 2010 season.
For me, it's easy to see the trend. I believe the influx of international players into KC is directly related to the attacking prowess and maybe even the success this team has seen in the last two seasons. It's not just that Vermes has brought in players that don't hold American citizenship, it's that he's brought in players that are of international quality. Specifically, players that represent their countries on a somewhat consistent basis.
One player that has represented their country even in the 2009 season when Kansas City was arguably at the lowest point in the club's history is Roger Espinoza. Espinoza has represented Honduras 21 times and even played in the 2010 World Cup against the eventual winners of the tournament Spain. Obviously, he is not the only player to have represented their country at such a high level. Surprisingly 7 players have played for their respective countries in the past year. Some on a more consistent basis than others. So let's take a quick look at who these players are.
- Roger Espinoza(Honduras) - 21 caps
- Daneil Cyrus(Trinidad and Tobago) - 13 caps
- Kei Kamara(Sierra Leone) - 8 caps
- Peterson Joseph(Haiti) - 6 caps
- Teal Bunbury(USA) - 3 caps
- Graham Zusi(USA) - 2 caps
- CJ Sapong - 2 caps