Continuing our 31 for 31 series of the important stories in Kansas City soccer for 2015...
It is perhaps the toughest story to take... but it was a moment that impacted the entire season and it was without a doubt one of the biggest stories of the season for Sporting Kansas City.
Ike Opara started this season on fire. He was a man on a mission. His career had been side tracked by injuries several times, but he was finally healthy and starting at center back. After scoring on opening day, he continued to dominate for the first month of the season.
The guy was named to three of the first four Teams of the Week, nominated for Player of the Month (although others felt he was indeed the POTM) and was even leading the team in goals scored for a while. Opara was on pace to become MLS Defender of the Year this season.
This was all especially rewarding for the former Generation Adidas player, considering his injur battles in the past. Ike missed virtually all of the 2014 season when he suffered a terrible ankle injury after only three appearances. He had micro-fracture surgery and the road to recovery was a long one. But this man has a very real fight in him. He recovered and got himself fit for the 2015 season.
More fit than ever. The speed was there. The incredible leaping ability was there. He was truly looking as inhuman as the alien I'm so positive he is. But that is a conspiracy theory for another time...
Then on April 11th against Real Salt Lake the unthinkable happened. Opara went up to meet a corner kick from Benny Feilhaber and then went down in a heap. He had ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Such a cruel injury. One that has been known to plague people simply standing on their toes trying to reach a high shelf. But it especially a shame to see it happen to a guy like Ike.
However, you do have to like the guy's chances! If there is anyone who has the right mentality to fight back from yet another injury, it is Opara. Had the season continued another couple weeks, we probably would have seen him back on the field already.
He'll be back in action soon and making defenses everywhere look terrible on set pieces.
I will keep my head up and push on. Fall down 7, stand up 8." - Ike Opara