May 13, 2013
Former Buckeye Roger Espinoza, who led the Ohio State men's soccer team to the 2007 national championship game, continues to make history on the international stage after helping Wigan to the 2013 Football Association Challenge Cup Saturday against Manchester City. The win came just days after the Honduras native’s first goal in the Premiership, the opening score in the Latics’ match with Swansea.
Acknowledged as the oldest soccer competition in the world, the FA Cup has been held since 1871-72 and is a knockout tournament open to upwards of 700 teams who compete in the Premier League, the Football League and majority of the FA National League System. Espinoza joined Wigan in January on a free transfer from Major League Soccer’s Sporting KC and has played in 14 matches, including four in the run for the FA Cup. He started and played the full 90 minutes vs. Manchester City Saturday.
“It’s overwhelming, the tournament as a whole is like that,” Espinoza said on Wigan Athletics’ official site. “I’m proud to say that my first Wigan Athletic game was in the FA Cup way back in January in the replay against Bournemouth. It’s unbelievable to win and it’s an unbelievable journey because we’ve come from the real roots of football to the national stadium. Going all the way, beating Everton like we did and then winning in the semifinal were amazing on their own but to win such a historic cup is just the best feeling in football.
“It was a crazy match, it was incredible,” he continued. “We worked our hardest, we won and we’ll celebrate but we’ll just keep on going now in our performances. Everybody played out of their skins and everyone deserved to win this cup for the effort they put in during the game. I think we played better against a very tough team and at the end we prevailed. I feel rewarded from seeing all of the fans that came to the game, their support was incredible and at the end they got what they deserved.”
Espinoza is one of just two players bred in the Big Ten to play in the Premier League, joining Indiana’s Juergen Somer who was a goalkeeper with the Queens Park Rangers in 1996-97. He will go down as the first field player from the league and the first to score a goal, adding to his growing list of history-making accomplishments. As a member of the Honduran national team, Espinoza also became Ohio State’s first World Cup and men’s soccer Olympic product in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Espinoza came to Ohio State after playing two seasons of junior college soccer at Yavapai College in Phoenix. He was named First Team All-Big Ten and second team all-region before earning a spot the NCAA College Cup All-Tournament Team with two spectacular performances in the College Cup in Cary, N.C. On the season, Espinoza contributed three assists and totaled three goals, including the first goal in the national championship game against Wake Forest to put the Buckeyes ahead, 1-0. He was selected with the 11th overall pick in the first round of the 2008 MLC SuperDraft by Kansas City, where he spent five seasons and made 113 career appearances.
Video highlights from the FA Cup final over Manchester City: