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Tampa Bay Rowdies lose Darwin Espinal to his national team

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As important as it may be, forward Darwin Espinal will miss tonight’s Tampa Bay Rowdies’ game against the Indy 11.

Instead, Espinal will be with the Under 23 team for Honduras, which has just called him up.

The team, Los Catrachos, will be competing in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship that is taking place in the United States from October 1 to October 13.

“It’s an honor to represent my national team once again,” Espinal said. “A year ago I was playing in junior college, and now I am helping Honduras qualify for the Olympics. It’s a pretty big jump to be honest.”

The eight countries in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship are divided into two groups. Honduras will look to finish in one of the top two spots in Group B, which they share with Mexico, Haiti and Costa Rica.

Right now, I believe we can compete with any team in the CONCACAF region,” Espinal said. “We’ve worked hard to get where we are and I have confidence that we can get positive results against what I think is a tough group.

The Rowdies were bumped into fifth place in the NASL Combined Standings on Sunday by FC Edmonton’s 2-1 win over the New York Cosmos. Edmonton leads Tampa Bay by one point, but the Rowdies have a game in hand, which will be played tonight. Fort Lauderdale sits in sixth, three points behind Edmonton and two points behind the Rowdies, but will have a match in hand following tonight’s Rowdies game.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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