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Opara's Defender of the Year award proves why he was right to seek a new challenge in Minnesota

Editor's note: Ike Opara was named MLS' Defender of the Year for 2019 on Thursday, after a season in which he turned around a Minnesota United defense that was among the worst in the league in each of its first two seasons in MLS, and led the Loons to their first ever playoff berth. Read on to follow his journey from Sporting Kansas City to the Twin Cities.

As much as things have changed for Ike Opara, at the office, it's business as usual. Last season, he shepherded a defense that ranked fourth...

Ike Opara wanted a fair deal. Now he's got a fresh start, and a new challenge, in Minnesota

Ike Opara is officially a Minnesotan now. It's not down to the fact that he's one of several new faces with Minnesota United, or that he spent his New Year's holiday in the Twin Cities. Instead, it comes down to a recent purchase.

"I finally invested in a proper outerwear jacket," said Opara, a native of North Carolina. "It's amazing how comfortable and warm those things are. You don't actually realize how cold it is here."

After obtaining Opara in a January trade with Sporting Kansas City,...

Sporting Kansas City trades defender Ike Opara to Minnesota

Sporting Kansas City has traded former MLS Defender of the Year Ike Opara to Minnesota United for $900,000 in Targeted Allocation Money, which could reach $1 million if certain incentives are reached.

One source said that if Minnesota makes the playoffs, then the incentive will have been reached, adding to Sporting Kansas City's haul. The new playoff format approved by MLS for 2019 will see seven teams in each conference make the postseason.

The deal for the former MLS Defender of the Year could reach $1 million if certain incentives are reached.

"We've been laser-focused on adding starters in key positions...

MLS Hot Stove: Will Almiron leave Atlanta? Is Vela going to Barca? What's next for Gio in LA?

By next week, training camp will have opened for every one of the 24 teams in MLS. A few have already opened but while players are preparing to begin the real grind of preseason, the process of assembling rosters continues.

Here's the latest from the MLS Hot Stove.

Almiron talks are 'very slow'

There are two weeks left until the close of the winter transfer window in England, and the clock is ticking on the much-anticipated move of Atlanta United midfielder Miguel Almiron to the Premier League....

Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara asks club to consider trading him

Sporting Kansas City defender Ike Opara has asked SKC manager Peter Vermes to consider any trade offers that come in for the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year.

A source initially told ESPN FC of Opara's request, and Vermes confirmed that the topic came up during a conversation with the player last week, although he stressed that, "Right now, with our roster, I'm not shopping anybody."

According to Vermes, Opara told him that the player's preference is to finish his career in Kansas City, but that he'd...


Sporting KC gives new deals to Tim Melia, Ike Opara, Danilel Salloi

Ike Opara is staying with Sporting Kansas City on a new contract.

Sporting Kansas City locked up goalkeeper Tim Melia, defender Ike Opara and forward Daniel Salloi to new contracts on Tuesday.

Melia, who was named the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year last season in his third campaign with the club, has committed his future to Sporting KC for another three years until 2020.

Opara, the league reigning Defender of the Year, was also rewarded with a new two-year deal with an option for 2020. The 29-year-old made his U.S. national team debut last month.

The previous...