Ike Opara seemed to break through some career hurdles in 2013, appearing in 18 matches and scoring three goals for MLS champion Sporting KC.
The defender started two of three matches for the club this season before suffering an ankle injury that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season.
Opara was injured during a collision with Colorado’s Jared Watts on March 29 and was carried off the field.
After a week of improvement, he was told to get an MRI as a precautionary measure. Good thing he did.
Opara will miss the remainder of the season with a chondral defect in his right ankle, an injury that will require surgery next week.
“It for sure caught me off guard,” Opara said. “It’s unfortunate, but there’s not much I can do about it other than move forward and stay positive.”
The 25-year-old from North Carolina was going to be a big part of the KC season, especially come World Cup time when starting center back Matt Besler is expected to be on United States men’s national team duty.
It also thickens the plot regarding teenage star Erik Palmer-Brown, who was subject to a bid from Juventus in the last transfer window and is apparently still being sought by the Old Lady.
The absence leaves Lawrence Olum and 16-year-old Erik Palmer-Brown as the top backups at central defender. Palmer-Brown, who attends O’Hara High School, has never seen MLS action.
“Erik’s going to have to be a part of it,” Vermes said. “He’s going to have to step up a little quicker.”