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Minnesota United's Ike Opara named MLS Defender of the Year

Ike Opara Photo: Courtesy of MNUFC
Ike Opara

Updated: October 17, 2019 04:27 PM

The MLS and Minnesota United announced on Thursday defender Ike Opara has been named the 2019 MLS Defender of the Year.

According to a news release, the centerback becomes the fourth player in MLS history to win the award multiple times, previously claiming the award in 2017 while with Sporting Kansas City.

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Opara helped guide Minnesota to its first-ever trip to the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs, transforming the defense from among the worst in MLS history to among the best in the league. When Opara was traded to Minnesota, the team had allowed 71 goals in 2018, which was tied for the second-most in league history. Then in 2019, Minnesota only allowed 43 goals, ranking third-best in the Western Conference. 

The 28-goal decrease is the third-best turnaround in MLS history, according to the release.

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. 

Minnesota United FC will host the LA Galaxy at Allianz Field in Round One of the 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs on Sunday. The match is set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

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Tommy Wiita

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