MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesota United can continue its winning streak Saturday night when the team plays host to FC Dallas at Allianz Field.
As David McCoy reports, a former Kansas City player has been a big part of that.
Ask Minnesota United coach Adrian Heath what he values most about defender Ike Opara and he starts to tell you how dependable Opara is defensively, then veers entirely into something else.
“He’s been used to winning. I thought that was really important when we picked him and Ozzie up in the offseason. These guys have been used to winning for 10 years. They don’t want to come into a losing situation, and not at their age as well,” Heath said. “They’re at an age now where every year is important and precious to them. They don’t want to be languishing outside the playoffs. On and off the field, he’s been a credit to his profession.”
The Loons traded a big pile of cash to acquire Opara from Kansas City this offseason, and as good a defender as he is – one of the best in the league – ask around and it’s the intangible things where he’s made the biggest impact. That’s what it takes to change a culture.
“I was given a responsibility and trust by staff to take my leadership and ability and bring it to this team,” Opara said. “Because when I came here, obviously we hadn’t done so well in the past couple years, so we needed some positive momentum, we needed some positive energy and I think guys at the end of the day feed off that and if you bring that, your role is established a lot easier.”
In order to have that role, you have to be most demanding of yourself, Opara says.
“I think just holding yourself accountable,” Opara said. “I think if guys see the work that you put in, day in and day out, your work, your experience, your character is never questioned. And then from there, you can start to hold your teammates accountable.”