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Kansas City’s Roger Espinoza: Olympic Games bound

Sporting Kansas City v Real Salt Lake

SANDY, UT - SEPTEMBER 17: Roger Espinoza #15 of Kansas City kicks the ball during a game against Real Salt Lake during the first half of an MLS soccer game September 17, 2011 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Real Salt Lake beat Kansas City 1-0. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

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MLS followers know all about Graham Zusi and his relatively recent rise. He’s clearly a major element in the swell of success around Livestrong Sporting Park.

But perhaps a little underloved in midfield matters around suburban KC is Roger Espinoza and what he has contributed in 2012 to Project Livestrong.

In his fifth MLS season, Espinoza has replaced some of the raw force that once dominated (and in some ways, dragged down) his game. He replaced the down-and-dirty with just a little more technical aspiration and a little more tactical wherewithal. The reconfigured result is one of Major League Soccer’s best two-way midfielders. How valuable is he to Peter Vermes’ men?

Everyone in and around Livestrong Sporting Park is about to find out. Espinoza just left for the UK, where he’ll be part of Honduras’ Olympic team during the Summer Games.

What Vermes told The Kansas City Star:

Roger has a great energy level within the team. He’s a great ball winner and he gets stronger as the game goes on. He has a great connection in the middle with Zusi and (Paulo) Nagamura right now, but these are the things that go on with teams. You just have to be ready.”

The 25-year-old midfielder could be away up to a month, depending on how far Honduras goes in the Olympic tournament.