Roger Espinoza and Konrad Warzycha knew they’d be competing with, and against, high-profile athletes when they left the Ohio State men’s soccer team to pursue Major League Soccer careers. But, teaming with Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chad Ochocinco never crossed their minds.
Ochocinco, a six-time NFL Pro Bowl selection and avid soccer fan, recently concluded a four-day trial with MLS club Sporting Kansas City, which began March 23.
Espinoza, a defender on Sporting KC’s squad, said he enjoyed training with the NFL superstar.
“I spoke to (Ochocinco) a little bit, and he was happy to be here,” Espinoza said. “He’s a world-class athlete.”
Espinoza, who helped to lead OSU to the 2007 NCAA College Cup championship game his senior season, said he expected Ochocinco’s trial with Sporting KC to be a “media thing.”
Ochocinco’s attitude convinced Espinoza otherwise.
“He’s not just here for media stuff,” Espinoza said. “He actually wanted to be here. He talks to a lot of the guys. He wants to play. … He knows a little bit about soccer.”
Warzycha, a rookie midfielder on Sporting KC’s roster, never got a chance to meet or train with Ochocinco.
After completing his final season as a Buckeye in November 2010 and signing a contract with Sporting KC on March 3, knee surgery forced Warzycha to return to Columbus for rehab.
Warzycha said that missing the opportunity to meet Ochocinco was “definitely a disappointment.”
“When I heard (Ochocinco) was coming,” Warzycha said, “I thought maybe I could do my rehab back in Kansas City.”
To find out whether Ochocinco was offered an MLS contract, check out Monday’s edition of The Lantern.