Adrian Heath: Ike Opara could join Minnesota United after the group stage

Ike Opara - Minnesota United - driving upfield

Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath is hopeful that Ike Opara, the two-time MLS Defender of the Year, will be available for the MLS is Back Tournament knockout stage.

Opara previously announced that he didn't travel with the team to Orlando, and instead is continuing to rehab a preexisting condition. It’s not a lock that Opara would be available, Heath said on The Dan Le Batard Show With Stugotz, but he’s optimistic.

“He's got a few little issues that he wants to sort out,” Heath said. “We’re hoping that maybe after the group stage if he feels a bit better, but at the end of the day we will work with the medical people. If he comes down, great, because he would be a great addition to the group. If not, I’ve got a lot of faith in the guys that we’ve got here.”

Opara was transformational for Minnesota in 2019, after joining that January in a blockbuster move from Sporting Kansas City. He’s dealt with injuries throughout his career, and last year logged 30 appearances for the third time since entering MLS in 2010 as a San Jose Earthquakes draft pick.

A commanding center back with 20 career goals, Opara has partnered with Michael Boxall since arriving in Minnesota. Defensive midfielder Ozzie Alonso is another key defensive piece, as is goalkeeper Tyler Miller after arriving this past offseason via trade from LAFC

Minnesota open their MLS is Back slate July 12 (8 pm ET | ESPN, ESPN Deportes; TSN in Canada) against Sporting KC. Matches against Real Salt Lake and the Colorado Rapids also await.