Salt meet wound. Before the 2019 season, and I’m sure no one noticed, Sporting KC traded the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, Ike Opara to Minnesota United. Well now he’s the 2019 MLS Defender of the Year.
I ⚫️ LIKE IKE— Minnesota United FC (@MNUFC) October 17, 2019
Ike is the 2019 @MLS Defender of the Year pic.twitter.com/geLU8HKPFD
Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. And honestly, I’ve personally got nothing against
Southern Canada Minnesota United and I hope they make a run in the MLS Cup Playoffs (starting tomorrow).
And for those holding out hope that Minnesota would make a horrible mistake and let Opara play out his contract and he’d come back to Kansas City, well those hopes have been dashed.
The Athletic is reporting Opara has signed a new “multi-year deal.” No word on how long the deal is yet (hopefully Minnesota will release that info). However, they did disclose that it’s a TAM level contract meaning it’s somewhere between the max budget charge (which was $530,000 in 2019) and the $1.5 million level. His deal goes into effect in 2020.
The Inevitable Fontas Comparison
As Sporting Kansas City fans are all too familiar with, the signing of Andreu Fontas in the summer of 2018 set in motion the events that would eventually see Opara leave the club. Fontas currently makes $1,050,000.00 in guaranteed salary. For comparison, Opara makes just $367,916.71.
After the 2018 salary information was released, Opara discovered his backup (Matt Besler’s backup?) made about three times the salary he made. Of course that would be upsetting. However, Opara had just gotten a raise before the 2018 season after his great 2017 performance and his up and down injury history. That deal went through 2019 with a 2020 option.
The Fontas salary (and likely Ike’s continued strong performance even if it dipped slightly in 2018) led Opara to go and talk with Peter Vermes about a raise. PV confirmed this to The Blue Testament and he indicated he let Opara know they would talk about revisiting his contract. However, sometime after that, it was leaked to the media that Opara had requested a trade. It could have been his agent but any good agent wouldn’t do that without their clients permission. Regardless, Opara was dealt to Minnesota for $1 million in various allocation monies.
Obviously, Opara vastly outperformed Fontas and Minnesota vastly outperformed Sporting KC. The most glaring stat is in goals allowed. Minnesota allowed 71 goals in 2018 before Opara arrived. They allowed 43 in 2019.
Sporting KC allowed 69 goals in 2017 and 2018 combined! They only allowed 40 in 2018 (over just 29 during his DPOY run in 2017). In 2019 they allowed 67 goals! Nearly as many as the previous two seasons combined!
Usually we praise Peter Vermes on his ability to “win” trades but this is clearly a miss. We can revisit that in a couple of years to see how Opara continues to perform but as of this moment, it looks really bad. It’s not his only miss of the 2018 offseason either. I unfortunately was very right on how bad the Diego Rubio and Kelyn Rowe trade was too. Rubio had 11 goals and five assists in 2019. Rowe had just two assists and only 690 minutes with SKC before being traded to Real Salt Lake.
Stick with The Blue Testament for more depressing news like when Rubio signs an extension with the Colorado Rapids. Obviously we’ll cover happier things like all the transfer rumors, the upcoming offseason news and you can check out our ongoing Year in Review series.