Sporting KC DF Ike Opara suffers ruptured Achilles tendon, could miss rest of season

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Ike Opara is injured and will miss an extended period of time — again.

Opara, Sporting Kansas City’s 26-year-old defender who began the 2015 season in Defender of the Year form, left Sporting KC’s 1-1 draw with Real Salt Lake on Saturday after suffering what appeared to be a left-leg injury in the 81st minute.

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On the play, Opara leapt for a header inside RSL’s penalty area but ended up clutching his lower left leg before reaching the top of his jump. After being stretched off the playing field, Opara tried to walk from the sideline to the locker room under his own power but was unable to do so.

On Monday, Sporting announced that Opara suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon on the play. Opara’s latest serious injury comes just over a year after his last, a chondral defect in his right ankle, suffered March 29, 2014.

Opara’s numerous contributions through six games this year, from SportingKC.com:

He leads Sporting KC – and all MLS defenders – with two goals in 2015, while also anchoring a backline that has three shutouts and has conceded the fewest shots per game (9.83) of any team in the league this season. In addition, Opara leads all MLS players in 2015 with 30 interceptions and 33 aerials won, while ranking second in duels won (55).

The timetable for a return from a ruptured Achilles tendon is usually in the neighborhood of four to six months, meaning Opara’s 2015 regular season is possibly finished. Per the club, an official timetable for Opara’s return is not yet known.

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Jalil Anibaba, who has started Sporting’s last four games at right back, Kevin Ellis, a right back-turned-center back in 2014, and 17-year-old Erik Palmer-Brown are likely to be head coach Peter Vermes’s go-to choices to replace Opara alongside Matt Besler, who was this week called up by the U.S. national team’s friendly against Mexico (Wednesday, 8:30 pm ET).

Sporting right back Chance Myers suffered a ruptured Achilles on May 23 of last year and is yet to return to action, though he did rejoin first-team training on Monday for the first time since the injury.