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Minnesota acquires 2017 MLS defender of the year Opara in trade with Sporting KC

07:07 EAT 29/01/2019
Ike Opara Sporting KC
The veteran defender joins the Loons after asking to leave Kansas City in search of a pay raise

Minnesota United has acquired 2017 MLS defender of the year Ike Opara in a trade with Sporting Kansas City.

The Loons sent $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and up to $100,000 in future TAM considerations to Sporting KC in exchange for Opara, who leaves the club after five seasons in Kansas City.

During his time with the club, Opara helped Sporting KC to the 2013 MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup titles in 2015 and 2017.

Opara is the second MLS Cup winner joining Minnesota ahead of the 2019 season as the club also added former Seattle Sounders midfielder Osvaldo Alonso.

“Going into this offseason we had targeted positions we felt were important to our success moving forward and this is another huge step to us achieving our goals,” Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath said.

“We’ve just added a player who has challenged for U.S. Open Cup, Supporters Shield and MLS Cup virtually every year, he won’t accept anything other than winning. When you add him to the likes of Ozzie Alonso, Jan Gregus, Romain Metanire, and the core group of players returning this year, we’ve set ourselves up to be successful going into Allianz Field.”

The move comes in the aftermath of an ESPN report stating that Opara had asked Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes to consider any trade offers for the defender.

Vermes originally said Opara preferred to stay in Kansas City as part of that December report, saying that the conversations were not "abnormal".

Opara signed a contract extension with Kansas City just prior to the 2018 season that ran through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Opara made $342,916.63 in 2018, according to MLS salary data.

The defender has made 157 league and playoff appearances, scoring 15 goals and adding five assists, while overcoming several injuries that limited his game time prior to 2016.

Opara has earned one career U.S. national team appearance - a January camp effort against Bosnia & Herzegovina last year.

“We’ve been laser-focused on adding starters in key positions of need this offseason and we feel that Ike [Opara] is an excellent addition to a really good core group of defenders already on our roster,” said Loons Sporting Director Manny Lagos.

“He provides a wealth of MLS experience — he is coming off of two great years. We are thrilled to add his quality and leadership to our roster.”