Ike Opara was voted the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year. The Sporting Kansas City defender has battled back from injury after injury, including a concussion this year to be recognized as the best defender in MLS.
"I am truly honored to be named 2017 MLS Defender of the Year," Opara said via press release. "Although this is an individual award, it wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support from many people over the years. That includes team owners, staff, teammates, fans, doctors, friends and family.”
"I want to thank everyone who has made even the smallest investment in me as a player and a person. Words cannot describe my appreciation. I'm already looking forward to 2018 and hopefully bringing more trophies to Kansas City."
With Opara anchoring the middle of the backline, Sporting KC only allowed 29 goals during the 2017 regular season. With Opara in the lineup, SKC notched a 0.77 goals against average and a 12-6-12 record in the 30 regular-season matches Opara played.
Not only was he the best defender, he was occasionally the best attacker, scoring three times. One of those was he spectacular bicycle kick that was a 2017 MLS Goal of the Year nominee.
Opara destroyed he competition in the Player and Media voting categories (I know he received my vote), ending up with 28.53% of the total vote.
Opara is the fourth Kansas City defender to earn the honor. He joins team mate Matt and head coach Peter Vermes along with Sporting KC legend Jimmy Conrad on the list.
2017: Ike Opara - Sporting Kansas City
2016: Matt Hedges - FC Dallas
2015: Laurent Ciman - Montreal Impact
2014: Chad Marshall - Seattle Sounders FC
2013: Jose Goncalves - New England Revolution
2012: Matt Besler - Sporting Kansas City
2011: Omar Gonzalez - LA Galaxy
2010: Jamison Olave - Real Salt Lake
2009: Chad Marshall - Columbus Crew SC
2008: Chad Marshall - Columbus Crew SC
2007: Michael Parkhurst - New England Revolution
2006: Bobby Boswell - D.C. United
2005: Jimmy Conrad - Kansas City Wizards
2004: Robin Fraser - Columbus Crew SC
2003: Carlos Bocanegra - Chicago Fire
2002: Carlos Bocanegra - Chicago Fire
2001: Jeff Agoos - San Jose Earthquakes
2000: Peter Vermes - Kansas City Wizards
1999: Robin Fraser - LA Galaxy
1998: Lubos Kubik - Chicago Fire
1997: Eddie Pope - D.C. United
1996: John Doyle - San Jose Earthquakes