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Sporting KC 2019 Year in Review: Roger Espinoza

We continue our look back at 2019 (come on, you know you want to) with red card Roger.

MLS: Seattle Sounders at Sporting KC Peter G. Aiken

The 2019 MLS season is one Sporting Kansas City fans will be looking to forget. But with a very long offseason ahead that may not have soccer until March (assuming no MLSPA strike), we feel compelled to look back at the good and the bad from 2019. For the full list of players reviewed, head to our dedicated Year in Review page.

The Blue Testament continues our look back at 2019 with perhaps the most important player on the pitch — Roger Espinoza.

2019 Stats*

Games Played (Started): 16 (15)

Minutes Played: 1,149

Games Suspended: 3^

^These were all from red cards. Espinoza also got a red card in preseason (against the Houston Dynamo) and was one yellow card away from yet another suspension.

Goals: 0

Assists: 3

xG (expected goals): 1.25

Positions Played: #8 midfielder

2019 Salary: $800,000.04

Contract Through (Option Years): 2020 (None)

*All stats from 2019 MLS regular season unless otherwise noted.

Best Moment of 2019

I’m tempted to use the damn Montreal Impact game again (it’s a bad sign when the best moment of your year is in March and the season runs until October). Instead, I’ll say the game April 20th against the San Jose Earthquakes. You might be wondering, how is this the best moment, SKC lost 4-1? Well, it was the first game Espinoza missed due to his knee injury. It showed how important, for better or worse, he is to this team.

Worst Moment of 2019

Espinoza’s red card against LAFC in the season opener. It was by way of a second yellow card and honestly, it might be more on Peter Vermes. The team had played just days earlier in Toluca, Mexico at altitude and PV decided to start Roger again anyways. He was clearly gassed and that led to his late challenge and second yellow. The team would be down a man and ultimately give up a late goal to lose it. LAFC went on to have the best season in MLS history and we all know what happened to KC.

The reason I picked this red over the other two is, against New York City FC that game was already lost. And against the Portland Timbers, both teams had 10 men, so it was less impactful.

Interesting Stat

How can it not be about red cards? Espinoza picked up three this year in league play to now become the all-time leader in Major League Soccer red cards (passing Jamison Olave). He has 11 all-time. And he did it at a faster pace too. Not a category anyone wants to lead the league in. The craziest part? Espinoza missed most of the season with injury and he still tied his personal record of three red cards in a year.

Fan Vote: Keep, Banish or Wait

Keep: 54.7%

Banish: 21.3%

Wait: 24.0%

Frankly, I’m a little surprised how lowly rated Espinoza is in terms of returning in the fan vote. The team clearly missed him when he was gone (if there had been two Felipe Gutierrez’s it would have been fine, but there wasn’t). Roger had a down year with the injury to his knee costing him three months. Despite that, he’s an integral piece to this team. Even if he should never play twice inside the same week. Espinoza will very likely be back next year but hopefully it’ll be in a reduced role to transition to the midfield of the future (Gianluca Busio and Felipe Hernandez perhaps).