|Full name||Ikenna Martin Opara|
|Date of birth||February 21, 1989|
|Place of birth||Durham, North Carolina, United States|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|2007–2009||Wake Forest Demon Deacons||65||(9)|
|2010–2012||San Jose Earthquakes||35||(3)|
|2013–2018||Sporting Kansas City||113||(12)|
|2009||United States U20||7||(0)|
|2012||United States U23||4||(0)|
|2021||Nashville SC (scout)|
|2022–||Sporting Kansas City II (assistant)|
*Club domestic league appearances and goals, correct as of August 5, 2021|
‡ National team caps and goals, correct as of January 28, 2018
Ikenna Martin "Ike" Opara (/oʊˈpɑːrə/;born February 21, 1989) is an American former soccer player who is currently an assistant coach for Sporting Kansas City II in MLS Next Pro.
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 in the USL Premier Development League.
San Jose Earthquakes
Opara was drafted in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2010 MLS SuperDraft by San Jose Earthquakes.
He made his professional debut on March 27, 2010, in San Jose's opening game of the 2010 MLS season against Real Salt Lake,and scored his first professional career goal - an away match winner - against Chicago Fire on April 10, 2010.
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.
Opara made his league debut for SKC on March 23, 2013, in a 0-0 away draw with the New England Revolution. 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. Although he was on the bench, Opara and SKC won the 2013 MLS Cup over Real Salt Lake on penalties. Opara logged 21 appearances and was named Sporting KC Newcomer of the Year for 2013.
Opara would go on to establish himself as a regular, solidifying one of the top defenses in MLS over the next few seasons, alongside his central back partner Matt Besler, converted right back Graham Zusi and left back Seth Sinovic. This group won the 2015 and 2017 U.S. Open Cups alongside their stellar keeper, Tim Melia. On November 10, 2017, Opara was awarded the MLS Defender of the Year Award and was 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 January 28, 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. 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. He was awarded the MLS Defender of the Year Award for 2019  On August 5, 2021, Minnesota opted to buyout Opara's contract.
Opara was selected to the United States Men's National Team on January 8, 2018. After attending the January camp for the national team, he played the full 90 minutes in a friendly versus Bosnia and Herzegovina, his only cap to date.
Sporting Kansas City II
After departing Minnesota United, Opara served as a scout for Nashville SC. Opara returned to Sporting Kansas City in January 2022, being named assistant coach for the club's MLS Next Pro side Sporting Kansas City II.
- As of match played March 8, 2020
|Cary Clarets||2008||USL PDL||6||0||—||—||—||6||0|
|San Jose Earthquakes||2010||MLS||11||3||—||—||0||0||11||3|
|Sporting Kansas City||2013||MLS||18||3||1||0||3[b]||1||3[a]||0||25||4|
- ^ a b c d e Appearance(s) in MLS Cup Playoffs
- ^ a b c Appearance(s) in CONCACAF Champions League
- As of match played January 28, 2018
Sporting Kansas City
- MLS Best XI: 2017, 2019
- MLS Defender of the Year: 2017, 2019
- ^ "FIFA U-20 World Cup Egypt 2009™: List of Players: United States" (PDF). FIFA. October 6, 2009. p. 22. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 13, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2012.
- ^ The club was known as the Cary RailHawks U23's in 2008
- ^ a b "United Soccer Leagues (USL)". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- ^ a b "United Soccer Leagues (USL)". Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- ^ 2010 MLS SuperDraft Archived January 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ "Rookie Opara Scores First MLS Goal". April 10, 2010.
- ^ "Sporting Kansas City swap draft pick for defender Opara". December 12, 2012. Archived from the original on September 28, 2015. Retrieved December 13, 2012.
- ^ "New England Revolution vs. Sporting Kansas City – 23 March 2013 – Soccerway". int.soccerway.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
- ^ "Real Salt Lake vs. Sporting KC – 20 July 2013 – Soccerway". int.soccerway.com. Retrieved June 3, 2018.
- ^ "Sporting KC announces 2013 team awards". sportingkc.com. October 19, 2013. Retrieved March 24, 2022.
- ^ "Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLSSoccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
- ^ "Sporting Kansas City trades defender Ike Opara to Minnesota". January 28, 2019.
- ^ "Ike Opara's head game breaks Loons' set-piece drought, draws blood again". Star Tribune. May 5, 2019.
- ^ "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". October 17, 2019.
- ^ "MNUFC Exercises Buyout on Ike Opara | Minnesota United FC".
- ^ "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.
- ^ Kovzan, Sam (January 14, 2022). "Former MLS Cup champion and MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara named Sporting KC II assistant coach". SportingKC.com. Retrieved January 14, 2022.
- ^ Ike Opara at Soccerway. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- ^ Strack-Zimmermann, Benjamin. "Ike Opara". www.national-football-teams.com. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
- ^ "2017 MLS Best XI revealed: Who was the best in 2017?". MLS Soccer. November 30, 2017.
- ^ "MLS Fact and Record Book". Major League Soccer. p. 163. Archived from the original on July 16, 2018. Retrieved October 28, 2019.
- ^ "Sporting Kansas City's Ike Opara wins 2017 MLS Defender of the Year award". MLS Soccer. November 9, 2017. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
- ^ Bogert, Tom (October 17, 2019). "Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year". Major League Soccer. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
- Ike Opara at Major League Soccer
- Ike Opara – FIFA competition record (archived)
- Ike Opara at Soccerway
- 1989 births
- Living people
- American sportspeople of Nigerian descent
- Sportspeople from Durham, North Carolina
- Soccer players from North Carolina
- African-American men's soccer players
- American soccer players
- Men's association football central defenders
- Wake Forest Demon Deacons men's soccer players
- All-American college men's soccer players
- North Carolina FC U23 players
- San Jose Earthquakes draft picks
- San Jose Earthquakes players
- Sporting Kansas City players
- Minnesota United FC players
- USL League Two players
- Major League Soccer players
- United States men's under-20 international soccer players
- United States men's under-23 international soccer players
- United States men's international soccer players
- 21st-century African-American sportspeople
- 20th-century African-American people
- Sporting Kansas City II coaches
- Nashville SC non-playing staff