TRANSFER TRACKER STATUS: Extensions
Opara was just named 2019 MLS Defender of the Year as he and Boxall formed a rock-solid center pack partnership as the club conceded 28 fewer goals this season than last en route to the club's first playoff berth in their MLS history. The Loons also made the US Open Cup final.
“We’re really excited to have re-signed both. They’ve been incredibly important to our success this year,” MNUFC sporting director Manny Lagos said in a club statement. “Michael’s been with us for a couple years now and really has grown and evolved both as a person and as a player and has become a really big influence on the club in a lot of ways. With Ike being Defender of the Year and having him being committed for a couple more years is exciting. We’re excited to get some continuity in an area of the field that we’ve been trying to grow, evolve and get better at.”
Minnesota acquired Opara ahead of this season from Sporting Kansas City and the American won his second Defender of the Year award. After being plagued with injury issues earlier in his career, playing more than 1,000 minutes only once before 2016, the 30-year-old has played at least 2,500 minutes in three consecutive seasons.
Boxall, 31, joined the Loons in 2017 after first debuting in MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011. He then spent the middle of the decade playing in Australia and South Africa before returning to MLS. He's made 73 appearances for the Loons.
“We’re obviously delighted we managed to tie the pair of them down. Anybody who’s watched us on a regular basis will understand the commitment and the level of performance that Ike and [Boxall] have done,” head coach Adrian Heath said. “Early on through the year, it became very clear that we wanted to move forward with these two guys. It’s an area of the field we feel we’re very blessed with really good players. It’s been a great year for [Ike and Michael], obviously culminating in Ike winning Defender of the Year but I think that easily could have been Boxy with the level of performance that he’s done. They’re both a manager’s dream, both come in everyday, do the work, great professionals on and off the field and great teammates."