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Ike Opara named MLS Defender of the Year

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MNUFC’s Ike Opara won the MLS’ Defender of the Year award.

August 4, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Portland Timbers defender Jorge Moreira (2) is beat by Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) during the match at Allianz Field.
August 4, 2019 - Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States - Portland Timbers defender Jorge Moreira (2) is beat by Minnesota United defender Ike Opara (3) during the match at Allianz Field.
(Photo by Seth Steffenhagen/Steffenhagen Photography)

For the second time in three seasons Minnesota United’s Ike Opara has been named the Major League Soccer’s Defender of the Year. The first award came in 2017 while he was a member of Sporting Kansas City.

“Initially being able to say [I’m] a two time winner, I think I was only fourth person to do that. So that’s really cool. To be where I was five years ago, thinking I wasn’t gonna play soccer again. To rattle off the last few years I’ve done, I’m grateful for a lot of people.” Ike Opara said this morning.

For the 2019 award he beat out LAFC’s Walker Simmerman and Eddie Segura, Atlanta United’s Miles Robinson, NYC FC’s Maxime Chanot, and New York Red Bulls’ Aaron Long.

Opara has been instrumental in the improvement of Minnesota’s defense from the pain that was the 2017 and 18 seasons to how they are in 2019. In 2017 MNUFC gave up 70 goals then giving up 71 in 2018 while they only gave up 43 in 2019 a drastic improvement over the past two seasons. Opara with his 29 starts and 30 appearances in 34 matches has been instrumental in the improvement of Minnesota’s defense from those two seasons.

Ike didn’t understate the rest of his teammates in the defense however, stating how important they we’re to the teams success.

“There’s been a lot of guys who’ve been awarded with some sort of success on our team. Whether it be Romain [being an] All Star or Boxy. At the end of the day people are getting recognized when you do well.”

“[It] Couldn’t happen to a better player. In terms of his personality, professionalism, teammate, and everything that we thought we were getting. We made a lot of inquiries when we were thinking of bringing Ike into the club and we never had a negative off anybody who knows him.” Adrian Heath stated in training this morning.

“It’s awesome to be apart of [and] sit here and be rewarded for a lot of hard work.” Ike Opara said.

Along with Opara, Hassani Dotson was named as a finalist for the AT&T MLS Rookie of the Year, where he finished third in the final voting that saw Colorado’s Andre Shinyashiki win the award. Vito Mannone was also named a finalist for the Allstate MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award which will be announced next week.

UPDATE:

Per Jeff Rueter of The Athletic, Ike Opara has also signed a Multi-Year deal with Minnesota.