Minnesota United's Ike Opara wins 2019 MLS Defender of the Year

Minnesota United center back Ike Opara has been named 2019 MLS Defender of the Year, the league announced Thursday. It's the second time Opara has won the award, having previously earned the honor in 2017.

Opara led a defensive revolution in Minnesota after joining from Sporting KC ahead of the season starting, helping the club concede 28 fewer goals than the season prior. The Loons made the Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in the club's short MLS history. He also helped the club to the 2019 U.S. Open Cup final.

He is the fourth player to win the award multiple times, joining Chad Marshall, Carlos Bocanegra and Robin Fraser. Here's the moment he learned he won the award, courtesy of Minnesota United:

The 30-year-old was selected No. 3 overall in the 2010 SuperDraft by the San Jose Earthquakes, though broke out with SKC in 2016, cementing his place as one of the league's best defenders ever since. After being plagued with injury issues earlier in his career, playing more than 1,000 minutes only once before 2016, Opara has played at least 2,500 minutes in three consecutive seasons.

Opara finished well ahead of LAFC's Walker Zimmerman and Atlanta United's Miles Robinson, beating both by over 16 percentage points. The award was voted on by MLS club technical staff, media, and current MLS players. Below is a breakdown of the voting results:

Voting Results

Nominee Player
Vote
Club
Vote
Media
Vote
Avg
Ike Opara (MIN) 25.75% 27.27% 44.88% 32.64%
Walker Zimmerman (LAFC) 20.40% 17.17% 12.20% 16.59%
Miles Robinson (ATL) 19.40% 13.13% 15.75% 16.09%
Maxime Chanot (NYC) 1.67% 16.16% 4.33% 7.39%
Eddie Segura (LAFC) 4.35% 9.09% 5.91% 6.45%

MLS Defender of the Year Winners

  • 2019: Ike Opara – Minnesota United
  • 2018: Aaron Long – New York Red Bulls
  • 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
  • 2008: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
  • 2007: Michael Parkhurst – New England Revolution
  • 2006: Bobby Boswell – D.C. United
  • 2005: Jimmy Conrad – Kansas City Wizards
  • 2004: Robin Fraser – Columbus Crew
  • 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 – Los Angeles Galaxy
  • 1998: Lubos Kubik – Chicago Fire
  • 1997: Eddie Pope – D.C. United
  • 1996: John Doyle – San Jose Earthquakes
Series: 

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