Josh and I had a few minutes this morning to discuss the latest rumors that English Premier side Wigan is after Sporting KC midfielder Roger Espinoza. Basically, Wigan is looking to make a deal ($$) for Espinoza during the English transfer window and get dibs on him before he becomes a free agent at the end of this MLS season.
Josh: I’m torn. I think it’s a good opportunity for Roger to go play for that caliber of team, and a chance for SKC to get some major cash in return. However, I don’t think they can win the cup without him either.
Mike: I don’t think they can win the cup without him either. We saw how much the midfield struggled when he was out on Olympic duty. This is a pretty delicate situation to fans. In a town where our football and baseball teams are constantly at the lowest payroll possible, we finally have a contender on our hands and would be damaging our chances greatly by accepting a transfer fee for him now.
The options on the table are: accept a transfer fee (speculated to be in the $1-1.5 million range) and lose him now, or all but definitely lose him at the end of the season for no compensation, as he is a free agent. The third and least likely scenario is to sign him to an extension inKansas City. You figure he would command Designated Player-type money in that case.
All that said, if he wants to play in the Premier League, and Wigan truly does want him, there’s nothing stopping him from going either now or in November when the season is over. And like you said, who could blame him? And who is Sporting Kansas City to deny him that opportunity if that’s truly what he wants? It’s the pinnacle of the profession. Nobody that is truly competitive and wants to make at the highest level is going to settle for a “comfortable” situation in this case.
I believe that Robb means what he says when he says he’ll do everything in his power to keep Roger. That’s the part that makes me think that they’ll at least attempt to make him a DP and keep him. Thinking marginally, why WOULDN’T you? We don’t currently have a DP, and have certainly done worse with DP’s in the past (Jeferson comes to mind).
Josh: Good point. I guess keeping him could go both ways
Mike: Assuming signing him as a DP isn’t an option, you have to weigh your options. How do you quantify the POSSIBILITY that you could win a cup if you keep him? It’s a huge gamble. If you win the cup and he goes toEuropewith no compensation to SKC/MLS, then you’d say it was definitely worth it because we got the cup. If they keep him and don’t win the cup, they they’re missing out on over a million bucks.
You’d think that would be the worst case scenario, but I’m not so sure even THAT would be the worst case. The worst case scenario could be the fallout with fans in KC who see yet another local franchise selling off their premium talent for a payday.
Mike: Let me ask you this- if SKC was offered $1.1 million transfer fee for Espinoza and we took it, how would that impact your feelings towards the front office and the direction of the team? Or would it?
Josh: As a fan, I’d be disappointed just b/c I don’t think they can win the cup without him. I don’t think it would change my feelings toward the front office much b/c they’ve made nothing but good decisions, so given that premise i would have to assume this is a good one too. It’s a tough call to make in a short amount of time.
Mike: So if it were up to you, what would you do?
Josh: Best case would be do the deal, and like you said, never let him leave the KC and bring him back as a DP. What would you do?
Mike: That’s a tough one. How much does Teal’s injury affect our chances with or without Roger? If we think that Teal’s ACL screws us (which I don’t), you sell now. If we think we have a chance to win the whole thing this year, we gotta hold on to him whether he leaves after the season or not.
Look at it this way- no matter what they do, it’s a net positive. We either have a chance to win the whole thing or get a ton of cash for him. But this team isn’t building for the future, it’s trying to win NOW. Selling Roger off at this point in the season goes against everything they’ve set up for themselves this year.
I think even if you hold on to him and lose him for nothing after the season, whether you win the cup or not, it will be a goodwill gesture towards the club’s supporters and reinforce everyone’s belief that winning is the number one priority here. If you win, the money will be there. I think they’ve already seen that.
Josh: I don’t think Teal’s injury hurts us either. I think Sapong will do just fine, and I think he’s proved that. I think this is probably one of the team’s best opportunities to win the whole thing. As a fan I’d be really disappointed if he left.
Mike: I’m the same way. I’d prefer them to hang on to Roger, even if they let him go for nothing at the end of the season. I think Roger would at least consider that alternative and be ok with it. Otherwise, if he makes it clear that he’s done (at least for now) in the MLS and he wants out now while his stock is high, that’s the thing to do. Sporting KC gets paid, everyone walks away grateful for what the other side brought to the table while it lasted.