A 29-year-old American centerback whose only professional experience came in Major League Soccer isn’t the flashiest acquisition. But, in 2019, it was the most important for Minnesota United FC. Overnight, Opara was the key figure in the Loons’ much-improved defense, a lithe, 6-foot-2 dart popping attackers’ thought balloons just as they appeared. His elegant hustle won Opara MLS Defender of the Year honors for the second time in his career, and MNUFC made its first appearance in the MLS playoffs. Once the season was over, the team signed the criminally undervalued Opara to a multi-year contract with a deserved raise.