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Espinoza Out 2-3 Months; Besler and Wallace Also Injured

Three relatively long-term injuries are added to the ongoing list.

MLS: Champions League-Toluca at Sporting KC Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The bad news just keeps getting worse. On the heels of a brutal 1-4 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes over the weekend, Sporting Kansas City got more bad news on Monday. Sporting KC announced that three players, Roger Espinoza, Matt Besler and Rodney Wallace would be out long term.

Espinoza Out Two to Three Months

Potentially the biggest hit comes in the form of midfielder Roger Espinoza being out for two to three months with a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) sprain in his left knee. The good news is that the injury reportedly will not require surgery, though we’ve heard that in the past only to have a player ultimately have surgery and miss the rest of the season (see: Medranda, Jimmy; Lobato, Cristian).

According to the Mayo Clinic, the injury is common in contact sports but is one that may occur and then not show immediate signs until the injury worsens over time.

“Athletes in sports such as football and soccer can tear their posterior cruciate ligament when they fall on a bent knee with their foot pointed down. The shinbone hits the ground first and it moves backward. Being tackled when your knee is bent also can cause this injury.”

Many people feel that Espinoza is the most valuable player on the field and that will really be tested in the coming months. Felipe Gutierrez has the ability to play a similar style to Roger while there is plenty of depth at the position in the form of Gianluca Busio, Kelyn Rowe and Yohan Croizet.

Besler’s Out Two to Four Weeks

As Croizet was keeping Danny Hoesen onside for the second goal on Saturday, Matt Besler pulled up lame with a hamstring injury while he was running back to defend the goal. The injury is less severe than his other teammates, but he will be out two to four weeks. Besler has a history of hamstring injuries and I suspect he’ll be out on the longer side of that timeframe to avoid risking aggravating the injury.

Center back is another position of solid depth, though Andreu Fontas missed the game in San Jose which led to Abdul Rwatubyaye getting his first MLS minutes since joining Kansas City from Rwanda. Assuming Fontas is healthy, he’d be the likely starter alongside Botond Barath. Rwatubyaye would be third and Graham Smith, who has spent all his time with the Swope Park Rangers, would be the fourth CB until Besler returns.

Rodney Wallace Out Four to Six Months

Is it too early to call Wallace another free agent bust? With his injury likely to keep him out for the majority of the 2019 season, he may end the year having made just a single league start before leaving the FC Cincinnati game 27 minutes in due to injury. Wallace is suffering from a right hip injury that will require surgery. He was one of two healthy left backs on the roster before his injury and he becomes the latest player who has failed to unseat Seth Sinovic.

The only depth currently at the position comes in the form of Croizet, who has started the last two league games and allowed a bare minimum of two goals by being out of position. The other left back on the roster is Jimmy Medranda who is expected to return in June or July. Medranda has been running at practice for about the last month according to The Blue Testament’s own Thad Bell. Another possible left back was likely to be United States Youth International Jaylin Lindsey, but he is also out with an extended injury.

Current Injury Round-Up

  • Jimmy Medranda (LB) - Out since 2018 due to knee surgery. Expected back in June or July of 2019.
  • Erik Hurtado (CF) - Knee surgery announced on March 20, 2019. Out for two to three months. Should return in late May or June.
  • Jaylin Lindsey (RB) - Knee surgery announced on April 1, 2019. Out for four to five months. Should return around August or September.
  • Roger Espinoza (CM) - PCL injury announced today. Out two to three months. Expected back in late June or July.
  • Rodney Wallace (LB) - Hip surgery announced today. Out four to six months. Expected back anywhere from late August to late October.
  • Matt Besler (CB) - Hamstring strain suffered Saturday, April 20, 2019. Should be back before the end of May.
  • Andreu Fontas (CB) - Calf injury. Missed Saturday’s game against San Jose. The injury duration is unknown but he was just listed as questionable last week (though Espinoza was too).
  • Gedion Zelalem (CM) - Ankle injury. Also missed Saturday’s game in SJ. Also just listed as questionable with an unknown timetable for return.

As of today that is eight players on the roster who are injured. Thankfully, Sporting KC’s schedule is easing up a bit before it picks up steam at the end of May. There will be real problems with depth in the coming months and more so if injuries keep piling up.