Ike Opara

Ikenna Martin "Ike" Opara (/ˈpɑːrə/;born February 21, 1989) is an American soccer player who currently plays as a defender for Minnesota United in Major League Soccer.

Ike Opara
Personal information
Full name Ikenna Martin Opara[1]
Date of birth (1989-02-21) February 21, 1989
Place of birth Durham, North Carolina, United States
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Playing position Centre Back
Club information
Current team
Minnesota United
Number 3
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– Minnesota United 30 (3)
National team
2009 United States U20 7 (0)
2012 United States U23 4 (0)
2018– United States 1 (0)
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of October 15, 2019
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of January 28, 2018


College and amateur

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]


San Jose Earthquakes

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 City

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 would go onto establish himself as a regular, solidifying one the top defenses over the next few seasons, alongside his central back partner Matt Besler, converted right back Graham Zusi and left back Seth Sinovic all forming one of the top MLS defenses. This group ended up winning the 2015 and 2017 U.S. Open Cups alongside their stellar keeper, Tim Melia. On November 10, 2017, Opara won the MLS Defender of the Year Award[11] and was also 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 FC

On 28 January 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.[12] 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.[13] He was awarded the MLS Defender of the Year Award for 2019 [14]

National Team

Opara was selected to the United States Men's National Team on January 8, 2018.[15] After attending the January camp for the national team, he played the full 90 minutes in a friendly versus Bosnia and Herzogvina, his only cap to date.



Sporting Kansas City



  1. "List of Players — 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
  2. The club was known as the Cary RailHawks U23's in 2008
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  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. 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.
  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 Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLSSoccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  12. "Sporting Kansas City trades defender Ike Opara to Minnesota". January 28, 2019.
  13. "Ike Opara's head game breaks Loons' set-piece drought, draws blood again". May 5, 2019.
  14. "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". October 17, 2019.
  15. "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.
  16. "2017 MLS Best XI revealed: Who was the best in 2017?". MLS Soccer. November 30, 2017.
  17. "MLS Fact and Record Book". Major League Soccer. p. 163. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
  18. "Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLS Soccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  19. Bogert, Tom (October 17, 2019). "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". Major League Soccer. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
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