And now they addressed the center back position in a big way.
Loons trade for top MLS center back Ike Opara from Kansas City
Minnesota United’s defensive overhaul continues to be bolstered by veterans known as some of the best in Major League Soccer.
The Loons traded for lauded 6-foot-2 center back Ike Opara from Sporting Kansas City, the club announced Monday. The Loons will give its Western Conference rival $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money and up to $100,000 more based on incentives, the club said.
This move comes on the heels of the Loons bringing in former Seattle defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso, a 33-year-old, four-time MLS all-star and MLS Cup champion, in an acquisition with the Sounders and Orlando City on Jan. 10. United has also added right back Romain Metanire for France’s Ligue 1 and Jan Gregus from the Danish SuperLiga. Each player is north of 27 years old.
“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,” United sporting director Manny Lagos said in a statement. “He provides a wealth of MLS experience — he is coming off of two great years.”
Opara, 29, was named MLS defender of the year and to the league’s Best XI in 2017. With two years left on his contract, he sought a raise from the $342,000 he earned in 2018, per the Kansas City Star, with Sporting instead opting to trade him.
The Loons are spending a portion of the $800,000 in allocation money acquired in the trade of forward Christian Ramirez to Los Angeles FC last August, a source told the Pioneer Press.
Opara has been with Sporting’s preseason training in Scottsdale, Ariz., and could join the Loons in nearby Tucson soon.
Opara has been a mainstay in the middle of Kansas City’s defense for the past three seasons. He played in 25 games in 2016, 30 games in 2017, and a career-high 31 games in 2018, which ended in a Western Conference final loss to the Portland Timbers.
The Durham, N.C., native and product of Wake Forest was drafted third overall in the 2010 SuperDraft. He played sparingly across three seasons for the San Jose Earthquakes and also couldn’t consistently break into K.C.’s starting XI for another three years.
It's not from one of the top leagues, but it is a top MLS player at his position and in his prime. The only box left to check on their off season wish list is for a starting goalie.
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