A product of Wake Forest University, Ike Opara was drafted by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft as a Generation adidas signing. After three years with the club, Sporting Kansas City acquired the defender ahead of the 2013 MLS season. Opara represented the United States at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and at the U-23 level during the 2012 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Opara enjoyed an excellent start to 2015, leading MLS through week six with 30 interceptions to go along with a team-high two goals and an MLS Player of the Month nomination in March. An Achilles injury in April drew an early end to his season. He made his return a year later, appearing in a 2-0 win at the New York Red Bulls on April 9, 2016, and contributed regularly to Sporting KC's back line in a strong bounce-back campaign. He signed a new contract with Sporting KC ahead of 2017, setting the stage for his best season as a professional. As the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, Opara anchored a miserly defense that conceded just 29 goals during the 2017 regular season, eight fewer than any other team. Opara set MLS career-highs with 30 starts and 2,700 minutes played, contributed to 11 shutouts and helped Sporting KC reach the MLS Cup Playoffs for the seventh straight year.
2017: Was named the MLS Defender of the Year after a dominant campaign in central defense. Was named the club's Defender of the Year and Goal of the Year winner for his spectacular bicycle kick in a 2-1 win at LA Galaxy on June 24. MLS regular season: Made 30 starts, scored three goals and contributed to 11 shutouts (2700 minutes played). Scored his first goal of the season in stunning style, finding the back of the net from 35 yards in a 3-0 win over Minnesota United FC on June 3. Scored game-winning goal with a beautiful bicycle kick in a 2-1 victory over LA Galaxy on June 24. Scored a late goal in a 2-1 loss at Real Salt Lake on Oct. 22. Open Cup: Started and played 88 minutes in a 4-0 fourth-round win over Minnesota United FC on June 14, scoring the first goal of the night off a corner kick. Started and played all 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over Houston Dynamo on June 28, finding the back of the net with a header for the go-ahead goal. Started and played 105 minutes against FC Dallas on July 11. Started and played 120 minutes in a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over the San Jose Earthquakes following a 1-1 draw through regulation and extra time on Aug. 9. Started and played 90 minutes in a 2-1 Open Cup Final victory over the New York Red Bulls on Sept. 20. MLS Cup Playoffs: Started and played 120 minutes in a 1-0 extra-time loss at the Houston Dynamo in the Western Conference Knockout Round on Oct. 26.
2016: Started 19 of a career-high 28 appearances in all competitions, recording one goal and three assists. MLS regular season: Started 16 of a career-high 25 appearances, recording one goal and three assists while contributing to seven shutouts (1542 minutes played). Made his season debut as a first-half substitute in a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls on April 9, becoming the first MLS player in 2016 to reach eight interceptions, five clearances an four tackles -- doing so in just 49 minutes of action. Earned his first start in just over a year on April 13 against the Colorado Rapids. Recorded the first assist of his MLS career on Matt Besler's 91st-minute game-winner in a 3-2 victory over Columbus Crew SC on July 3. Scored his first goal of the season in a 3-1 win over New York City FC on July 10. Assisted Jacob Peterson's goal in a 3-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC on July 24. Came off the bench to record the game-winning assist in a 2-1 win at the San Jose Earthquakes on Sept. 24. Open Cup: Started one match (120 minutes played). Started and played 120 minutes in a 2-1 extra time win over Minnesota United FC on June 15. CONCACAF Champions League: Started and played 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Vancouver on Sept. 13. Started and played 90 minutes in a 3-1 win over Central FC on Oct. 19. MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not feature.
2015: MLS regular season: Earned six starts, scored two goals and contributed to three clean sheets (534 minutes played). Scored a goal in a 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls on March 8, playing his first MLS match since March 29, 2014. Earned MLS Team of the Week recognition in Week 1 (March 9). Earned MLS Team of the Week recognition in Week 3 (March 23). Scored the game-winning goal in a 1-0 win at New York City FC on March 28. Earned MLS Team of the Week recognition in Week 4 (March 30). Nominated for Etihad Airways MLS Player of the Month in March. Was named Soccer By Ives Player of the Month for March. Suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon injury in the final moments of a 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake on April 11. MLS Cup Playoffs: Did not feature. Open Cup: Did not feature.
2014: MLS regular season: Made three appearances with two starts in the month of March. Opara tied MLS career highs for shots (3) and shots on goal (2) in Sporting KC's 1-0 win against his former club, the San Jose Earthquakes, on March 22. He suffered a chondral defect injury in his right ankle on March 29 at Colorado Rapids and missed the remainder of the season. MLS Playoffs: Did not feature. CCL: Played 90 minutes in both 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal legs vs. Cruz Azul, contributing to a shutout in the first leg on March 12. Open Cup: Did not feature.
2013: Voted 2013 Sporting KC Newcomer of the Year. MLS: Appeared in 18 games with 16 starts. Tied his career-high with three goals scored. Made his Sporting KC debut with a start against New England Revolution on March 23. Scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time of Sporting KC's 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on July 20. Opara scored the lone goal in the team's 1-0 win over the Columbus Crew on October 5. Playoffs: Appeared in three matches during MLS Cup Playoffs. Came off the bench for late-game substitutions in the second leg of the Conference Semfinal series vs. New England and both Conference Championship matches vs. Houston. CCL: Started three 2013-14 CONCACAF Champions League group stage matches, scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-0 win at Real Esteli on September 17. Open Cup: Started and played 90 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Orlando City SC on June 12.
2012 (San Jose): Played in sixteen matches during MLS season for San Jose Earthquakes.
2011 (San Jose): Made 2011 season debut coming on as a substitute in 83rd minute at FCD on 3/26 … Came on as a substitute in the 70th minute vs. SEA on 4/2 … Made first start of the season, played 90 minutes and received a yellow card vs. TFC on 4/9 … Played 90 minutes at NY on 4/16 and at VAN on 5/11 … Came on as a substitute in 82nd minute vs. CLB on 5/14 … Played 90 minutes vs. NE on 5/21 and at CHI on 5/28 … Missed final 23 games of MLS season due to left foot injury … Exhibition: -- … Open Cup Qualifying: Played 120 minutes, scored the game-winning goal and received a yellow card at POR on 5/3 … Reserves: Played 90 minutes vs. VAN on 3/22 … Started and played 64 minutes vs. SEA on 4/3 … Played 90 minutes vs. CHV on 4/23.
2010 (San Jose): Picked third overall in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft … Appeared in 11 matches, starting 10 … Scored three goals … Made MLS debut and played 90 minutes vs. RSL on 3/27 … Scored first career goal, a game-winner, in 82nd minute at CHI on 4/10 … Scored his second goal in the win vs. NE on 4/17 … DNP vs. COL on 5/1 … DNP vs. NY on 5/8 or at NE on 5/15 due to right hamstring strain … DNP at SEA on 5/22 or vs. TFC on 5/29 … Came on as a substitute in the 76th minute vs. CLB on 6/2 … Played 90 minutes at FCD on 6/7 and at RSL on 6/25 … Played 90 minutes vs. DC on 7/3 and scored a goal … Played 90 minutes at PHI on 7/10, at LA on 7/22, and vs. SEA on 7/31 … DNP at COL on 8/7 through KC on 10/23 due to fractured left foot … Exhibition: Started and played 72 minutes vs. CHV on 6/12.
International: Started all three matches at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt as the U.S. went 1-2, including a 4-1 win over Cameroon in the second game of the group stage … Invited to camp with the U.S. Olympic squad (U-23) from Feb. 19-29, 2012 … Scored a goal during camp in a friendly with FC Dallas on 2/22.
College: 2009: Appeared in 17 games during junior season at Wake Forest and scored three goals and notched two assists … Earned All-American honors from the NSCAA, Soccer America, College Soccer News and TopDrawerSoccer.com … Named semifinalist for M.A.C. Hermann Trophy … Selected as ACC Defensive Player of the Year for second straight year … Earned All-ACC first team accolades … Named preseason All-American by Soccer America and College Soccer News … Started both games at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, earning all-tournament honors … 2008: Started 22 games during 2008, scoring five goals … Named ACC Defensive Player of the Year … Earned All-ACC First Team honors … Finalist for the Soccer News Net College Player of the Year Award … Named first team All-American by TopDrawerSoccer.com and College Soccer News … Earned Second Team All-America honors from the NSCAA and Soccer America … 2007: Named Soccer America First Team All-Freshman … Selected to All-ACC Freshman Team … First collegiate goal was the tying mark in Wake’s 1-1 draw with Elon on 10/2.
High School/Club: Four-year letterman at C.E. Jordan High School … Three time all-conference selection … All-Piedmont Athletic Conference Player of the Year as a junior … MVP in 2005 and 2006 … Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman … All-Region selection in 2005 … Helped C.E. Jordan High to four conference championships … Played his club soccer for Triangle FC Navy 88 … Member of the North Carolina ODP team in 2007 … Three-time selection to the Super Y ODP … Named an Elite 300 All-Star.
Personal: Parents are Emmanuel and Clarice … Stayed at Wake Forest after the 2010 SuperDraft in order to finish up his junior year of classes, shuffling back and forth to North Carolina for midterms.