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Rowdies forward Darwin Espinal called for training camp with Honduras national team

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Tampa Bay Rowdies forward Darwin Espinal has been invited to join the Honduras Under-23 National Team for a training camp in Honduras from Sunday, June 14, to Thursday, June 18.

The training camp will be held in Comayagua, 56 miles northwest of the capital city, Tegucigalpa. Espinal’s departure date has not yet been confirmed. Espinal, 20, has not been to his home country in 11 years.

“It’s an honor to be called for the national team and for them to have me in mind,” Espinal said. “I’m excited to go. To play for your national team at any age level is a huge deal. It’s a lot of pressure, but I’m ready to represent my country.”

The Honduras Under-23 national team is preparing for summer qualifiers in hopes of reaching the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, next year. Honduras reached the 2012 Olympics and advanced out of Group D, along with Japan, ahead of Morocco and Spain. Honduras was beaten 3-2 by Brazil in the quarterfinals.

To reach Rio, Honduras must first advance from UNCAF (Unión Centroamericana de Fútbol) qualifying in August, where seven Central American nations will play for three spots in CONCACAF qualifiers. Honduras is in a group with Guatemala and Belize. From there, Honduras would play in CONCACAF qualifiers in the United States in October. CONCACAF is allotted 2.5 spots in the 2016 Olympics.

“As a young player, Darwin has put in an incredible amount of work this season to improve his game,” Rowdies Head Coach Thomas Rongen said. “He has earned this call-up and it’s an honor for Darwin to wear his national colors. It’s also a major honor for the Rowdies to have players selected by their respective national teams. We’re very proud of this accomplishment.”

Espinal has played seven matches in 2015, starting five, and scored in his professional debut, a 3-1 win over the San Antonio Scorpions on April 4.

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