Sporting KC's Ike Opara named Defender of the Year

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Jamie Squire / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Sporting Kansas City's guardian is getting the respect he deserves.

On Thursday, Major League Soccer named Ike Opara as Defender of the Year. The American centre-back beat Justin Morrow and Kendall Waston, the award's other finalists.

Sporting KC allowed 29 goals during the regular season, eight fewer than any other club, and won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

In the 30 regular-season games that Opara started, Sporting KC averaged 0.77 goals allowed per game and won 12 matches. He also tallied three goals, including one that resulted from a bicycle kick and earned a nomination for MLS Goal of the Year.

Players Player vote % Media vote % Club vote % AVG. vote %
Ike Opara 31.42 14.29 39.88 28.53
Justin Morrow 13.79 11.90 15.77 13.82
Kendall Waston 10.73 15.48 9.23 11.81
Leandro Pirez 5.36 16.67 10.71 10.91
Matt Besler 2.68 4.76 7.44 4.96
Joevin Jones 2.68 9.52 1.19 4.46

"I am truly honored to be named 2017 MLS Defender of the Year," Opara said. "Although this is an individual award, it wouldn't have been possible without the unwavering support from many people over the years. That includes team owners, staff, teammates, fans, doctors, friends, and family.

"I want to thank everyone who has made even the smallest investment in me as a player and a person. Words cannot describe my appreciation. I'm already looking forward to 2018 and hopefully bringing more trophies to Kansas City."

Opara is the fourth footballer from Sporting KC to be named as Defender of the Year.