It was announced on Tuesday that one of MLS’ hottest defensive talents has been traded to Minnesota United in exchange for Trade Allocation Money.
Sporting Kansas City traded franchise centre-back Ike Opara to Minnesota in exchange for approximately $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money. That figure could the $1 million mark if Minnesota make the playoffs, as reported by ESPN reporter Jeff Carlisle.
After news broke of the transfer, Ike Opara released a statement thanking the franchise and its fans for having him in Kansas. He said, “Please stop thanking me for my time in KC. I should be the one thanking YOU.” He added, “I am forever grateful and proud to have the opportunity to call this my home! This is the hardest goodbye that I’ve ever had to write, but maybe I’ll see you again soon, Kansas City.”
Good deal for Minnesota
The $1 million fee is fairly hefty for an athlete on the brink of his 30th birthday. Despite that, I really like this move.
Opara has a wealth of knowledge in the game which will only improve their young squad. He has also consistently improved throughout his MLS career, winning the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2017. I have yet to witness decline in Opara’s game. He clearly still has a lot left in the tank.
He possesses all the right attributes to become the leader of the defence. He’s incredibly quick, which means he can go toe-to-toe with just about anybody. In addition, his 6”2’ stature puts opposition at a disadvantage as he often outmuscles the opposing player in one-on-one situations.
Opara is incredibly athletic for an athlete of his size. He brings with him an great experience of the US game, having played in 196 games across his 8-year career.
Opara’s Career To Date
In his time at Sporting Kansas City, Opara showed how good he can be.
Opara became a franchise defender for the club. In his first season with SKC they won the MLS Cup. That said, the majority of his appearances came from the bench. In 2014, he became a starter.
Alongside an All-Star back-four, which included Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Seth Sinovic, the club captured both the 2015 and 2017 MLS Cup. Through his 145 appearances for the team, he proved he had a nose for goal scoring too, hitting the back of the net 15 times.
The most impressive aspect of Opara’s career is his resiliency. He’s battled back from multiple setbacks including back-to-back season ending injuries.
The first, in 2014, was an ankle contusion. The very next season whilst at the top of his game, Opara ruptured his Achilles. Regardless, he fought back until he once again succeeded as the best defender in the league, which he did in 2017.
Ultimately, MNUFC will receive a dedicated athlete, whose footballing qualities will be just as useful as his experience in aiding a youthful roster such as United’s.