Minnesota United’s centerback duo of 2019 Defender of the Year Ike Opara and Michael Boxall have re-signed with the club ahead of the 2020 season. Opara and Boxall helped turn around a defense that conceded 71 goals in 2018, in 2019 that went down to just 43 and plus had a club record of 11 clean sheets. Both players are now on multi-year deals as reported by the team today.
“We’re really excited to have re-signed both [Ike Opara and Michael Boxall]. They’ve been incredibly important to our success this year,” said MNUFC Sporting Director Manny Lagos. “Michael’s been with us for a couple years now and really has grown and evolved both as a person and as a player and has become a really big influence on the club in a lot of ways. With Ike being Defender of the Year and having him being committed for a couple more years is exciting. We’re excited to get some continuity in an area of the field that we’ve been trying to grow, evolve and get better at.”
Ike Opara joined the Loons prior to the 2019 season after spending the previous six seasons playing for Sporting Kansas City. During his time at SKC Opara was named Defender of the Year in 2017, along with being named it again in 2019 while playing for Minnesota.
Michael Boxall joined the team during the summer of 2017 following the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia, where he represented his home country of New Zealand.
“We’re obviously delighted we managed to tie the pair of them down. Anybody who’s watched us on a regular basis will understand the commitment and the level of performance that Ike and [Boxall] have done,” said MNUFC Head Coach Adrian Heath. “Early on through the year, it became very clear that we wanted to move forward with these two guys. It’s an area of the field we feel we’re very blessed with really good players. It’s been a great year for [Ike and Michael], obviously culminating in Ike winning Defender of the Year but I think that easily could have been Boxy with the level of performance that he’s done. They’re both a manager’s dream, both come in everyday, do the work, great professionals on and off the field and great teammates. This is just reward for all the hard work they’ve put in over the last 12 months or 18 months for Boxy. Delighted they’re going to be around and really pleased they’re going to be here as teammates and pillars for what we’re trying to build for the future.”
Stay tuned to E Pluribus Loonum for more offseason updates on Minnesota United FC.