Ikenna Martin "Ike" Opara (/ˈpɑːrə/;born February 21, 1989) is an American former soccer player who is currently an assistant coach for Sporting Kansas City II in MLS Next Pro.

Ike Opara
Opara Minnesota United - MNUFC v NYCFC NEW YORK CITY FOOTBALL CLUB - ALLIANZ FIELD - St. PAUL MINNESOTA (47607983141).jpg
Opara with Minnesota United in 2019
Personal information
Full name Ikenna Martin Opara[1]
Date of birth (1989-02-21) February 21, 1989 (age 33)
Place of birth Durham, North Carolina, United States
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Position(s) Centre Back
College career
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2007–2009 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Senior career*
Years Team Apps (Gls)
2008–2009 Cary Clarets 13 (0)
2010–2012 San Jose Earthquakes 35 (3)
2013–2018 Sporting Kansas City 113 (12)
2019–2021 Minnesota United 32 (5)
Total 193 (20)
National team
2009 United States U20 7 (0)
2012 United States U23 4 (0)
2018 United States 1 (0)
Teams managed
2021 Nashville SC (scout)
2022– Sporting Kansas City II (assistant)
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of August 5, 2021
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of January 28, 2018

CareerEdit

College and amateurEdit

Opara played college soccer at Wake Forest University from 2007 to 2009 where he appeared in 65 games scoring nine goals and adding three assists. He was a member of Wake Forest's 2007 NCAA College Cup Championship team. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the year in 2008 and 2009.

During his college years Opara also played two seasons for Cary Clarets[2] in the USL Premier Development League.[3][4]

ProfessionalEdit

San Jose EarthquakesEdit

Opara was drafted in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by San Jose Earthquakes.[5]

He made his professional debut on March 27, 2010, in San Jose's opening game of the 2010 MLS season against Real Salt Lake,[6] and scored his first professional career goal - an away match winner - against Chicago Fire on April 10, 2010.[7]

His time with the Earthquakes was plagued by repeated foot injuries.

Sporting Kansas CityEdit

Opara was traded to Sporting Kansas City from San Jose on December 12, 2012, for Kansas City's natural second-round selection in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft.[8]

Opara made his league debut for SKC on March 23, 2013, in a 0-0 away draw with the New England Revolution.[9] He scored his first league goal for the club about four months after his debut, in a 2-1 away win over Real Salt Lake on July 20, 2013. His goal, scored in the 96th minute, won the match for Sporting.[10] Although he was on the bench, Opara and SKC won the 2013 MLS Cup over Real Salt Lake on penalties. Opara logged 21 appearances and was named Sporting KC Newcomer of the Year for 2013.[11]

Opara would go on to establish himself as a regular, solidifying one of the top defenses in MLS over the next few seasons, alongside his central back partner Matt Besler, converted right back Graham Zusi and left back Seth Sinovic. This group won the 2015 and 2017 U.S. Open Cups alongside their stellar keeper, Tim Melia. On November 10, 2017, Opara was awarded the MLS Defender of the Year Award[12] and was selected to the MLS Best XI for his spectacular performances during the 2017 MLS season, joining his fellow SKC player, goalie Tim Melia, on the list.

Minnesota United FCEdit

On January 28, 2019 Sporting KC traded Opara to Minnesota United FC for $900,000 of TAM and an additional $100,000 contingent upon Minnesota qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in its brief franchise history.[13] He scored his first goal for Minnesota against the Seattle Sounders off a set piece in a 1-1 home draw on May 4, 2019.[14] He was awarded the MLS Defender of the Year Award for 2019 [15] On August 5, 2021, Minnesota opted to buyout Opara's contract.[16]

National TeamEdit

Opara was selected to the United States Men's National Team on January 8, 2018.[17] After attending the January camp for the national team, he played the full 90 minutes in a friendly versus Bosnia and Herzegovina, his only cap to date.

CoachingEdit

Sporting Kansas City IIEdit

After departing Minnesota United, Opara served as a scout for Nashville SC. Opara returned to Sporting Kansas City in January 2022, being named assistant coach for the club's MLS Next Pro side Sporting Kansas City II.[18]

Career statisticsEdit

ClubEdit

As of match played March 8, 2020[19]
Appearances and goals by club, season and competition
Club Season League National cup Continental Other Total
Division Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals Apps Goals
Cary Clarets 2008[3] USL PDL 6 0 6 0
2009[4] 7 0 7 0
Total 13 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 0
San Jose Earthquakes 2010 MLS 11 3 0 0 11 3
2011 8 0 8 0
2012 16 0 3 0 1[a] 0 20 0
Total 35 3 3 0 0 0 1 0 39 3
Sporting Kansas City 2013 MLS 18 3 1 0 3[b] 1 3[a] 0 25 4
2014 3 0 2[b] 0 5 0
2015 6 2 0 0 6 2
2016 25 1 1 0 2[b] 0 0 0 28 1
2017 30 3 5 2 1[a] 0 36 5
2018 31 3 1 0 4[a] 0 36 3
Total 113 12 8 2 7 1 8 0 136 15
Minnesota United 2019 MLS 30 3 4 0 1[a] 0 35 3
2020 2 2 0 0 2 2
Total 32 5 4 0 0 0 1 0 37 5
Career total 193 20 15 2 7 1 10 0 225 23
  1. ^ a b c d e Appearance(s) in MLS Cup Playoffs
  2. ^ a b c Appearance(s) in CONCACAF Champions League

InternationalEdit

As of match played January 28, 2018[20]
Appearances and goals by national team and year
National team Year Apps Goals
United States 2018 1 0
Total 1 0

HonorsEdit

Sporting Kansas City

Individual

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009™: List of Players: United States" (PDF). FIFA. October 6, 2009. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  2. ^ The club was known as the Cary RailHawks U23's in 2008
  3. ^ a b "United Soccer Leagues (USL)". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
  4. ^ a b "United Soccer Leagues (USL)". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  5. ^ 2010 MLS SuperDraft Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ CBC News https://web.archive.org/web/20110721224816/http://stats.cbc.ca/mls/boxscore.asp?gamecode=2010032711&season=2010-1. Archived from the original on July 21, 2011. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Rookie Opara Scores First MLS Goal". April 10, 2010.
  8. ^ "Sporting Kansas City swap draft pick for defender Opara". December 12, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
  9. ^ "New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City – 23 March 2013 – Soccerway". int.soccerway.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  10. ^ "Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC – 20 July 2013 – Soccerway". int.soccerway.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
  11. ^ "Sporting KC announces 2013 team awards". sportingkc.com. October 19, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
  12. ^ "Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLSSoccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  13. ^ "Sporting Kansas City trades defender Ike Opara to Minnesota". January 28, 2019.
  14. ^ "Ike Opara's head game breaks Loons' set-piece drought, draws blood again". Star Tribune. May 5, 2019.
  15. ^ "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". October 17, 2019.
  16. ^ "MNUFC Exercises Buyout on Ike Opara | Minnesota United FC".
  17. ^ "Sporting KC defender Ike Opara selected to U.S. Men's National Team for January Camp". Sporting Kansas City. January 8, 2018. Retrieved January 27, 2018.
  18. ^ Kovzan, Sam (January 14, 2022). "Former MLS Cup champion and MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara named Sporting KC II assistant coach". SportingKC.com. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
  19. ^ Ike Opara at Soccerway. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  20. ^ Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Ike Opara". www.national-football-teams.com. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  21. ^ "2017 MLS Best XI revealed: Who was the best in 2017?". MLS Soccer. November 30, 2017.
  22. ^ "MLS Fact and Record Book". Major League Soccer. p. 163. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  23. ^ "Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLS Soccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  24. ^ Bogert, Tom (October 17, 2019). "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". Major League Soccer. Retrieved October 17, 2019.

External linksEdit