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Minnesota United FC’s Ike Opara named MLS Defender of the Year

21 Oct 2019, 16:49 IST

Ike Opara
Ike Opara

Major League Soccer announced today that Minnesota United FC’s Ike Opara has been named the 2019 MLS Defender of the Year. The center back becomes the fourth player in MLS history to win Defender of the Year multiple times, previously capturing the award in 2017 while with Sporting Kansas City.

Opara guided Minnesota to its first ever trip to the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, transforming the defense from among the worst in MLS history to among the best in the league. After arriving to the team from Sporting KC in one of the largest monetarily valued trades in league history, Opara helped Minnesota improve from its 2018 season in which it allowed 71 goals, then tied for the second-most in league history. This season, Minnesota allowed a mere 43 goals, third-best in the Western Conference, with the 28-goal decrease ranking as the third-best turnaround in MLS history.

Behind Opara’s leadership, Minnesota finished fourth in the Western Conference, securing home-field advantage in Round 1 of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, where it will host its first ever postseason match at the brand-new Allianz Field. Opara played in 30 regular season matches this season for the Loons, tying a career-high with three goals scored to go along with an assist across 2,566 minutes played. The North Carolina native finished third in the league with 155 clearances and his 22 blocked shots were among the top 20 in MLS this season.

  • Video soundbytes from Ike Opara and Minnesota United FC Head Coach Adrian Heath are available HERE

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft presented by adidas, Opara becomes only the fourth player to win multiple Defender of the Year awards, joining Carlos Bocanegra, Robin Fraser and Chad Marshall. Outside of MLS regular season play, Opara helped Minnesota advance to the finals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this season.

Minnesota United FC will host the LA Galaxy at Allianz Field in Round 1 of the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday, October 20 (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN / ESPN Deportes / WatchESPN / TSN4 / TVA Sports).

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