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 like to make more money, and if any trade offers came in for him from other teams, to consider them.
"These are the kind of conversations that go on all the time at the end of the year," Vermes said via telephone. "Everybody wants more money. That's not abnormal."
Opara, 29, signed a contract extension with Kansas City just prior to the 2018 season, and it is set to run through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Vermes noted that Opara could have let his contract run out after the current season and chose not to.
According to salary information provided by the MLS Players Association, the deal paid Opara $342,916.63 in guaranteed compensation in 2018. But SKC signed defender Andreu Fontas just before the close of the summer transfer window in a deal that according to the MLSPA pays him just under $1 million a year.
Despite that disparity in salary, Opara maintained his partnership with Matt Besler in the center of the SKC defense for the rest of 2018. Fontas made just two appearances and one start after joining Kansas City in August.
Vermes pointed out that SKC isn't averse to making bold moves, including the trading of Dom Dwyer in July of 2017 for what was then a then-record haul of $1.6 million in allocation money. But after a season that saw SKC finish atop the Western Conference during the regular season, Vermes indicated that he feels his roster is strong.
"I can't tell you that people aren't coming to me," said Vermes. "If a deal makes sense, I'll consider it. If it doesn't, I'm good with where we're at. The [salary] cap is great. We have money and we have players. I'm not really concerned."
Opara was drafted third overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes, but injuries stunted his growth as a player and he was traded to Sporting Kansas City prior to the 2013 campaign. Opara finally shook off the injury bug in 2016, and has made at least 25 appearances in each of the past three seasons. His MLS career has seen him make 157 league and playoff appearances, scoring 15 goals and adding five assists.
At international level, Opara has made one appearance for the U.S. national team, a friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina last January.