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Update: Sporting KC’s Opara released from hospital with grade 3 concussion

Photo by Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ike Opara, on the cusp of a season that would cement him as one of the best defenders in MLS, will miss extended time due to another unfortunate injury.

In a very scary moment, the Sporting Kansas City defender went to head a ball away from FC Dallas’ Maxi Urruti, whose attempted bicycle kick caught Opara square in the face. He was stretchered off the field after several motionless minutes, giving a thumbs up on the way, but while Opara was awake and alert at the hospital, he was unfortunately diagnosed with the most severe grade of concussion, reports The Kansas City Star.

Opara was later released from the hospital on Thursday afternoon, having been diagnosed with a grade 3 concussion, Sporting KC announced. He will now enter the league’s concussion protocol. There is no timetable set for his return.

“It’s tough. We are praying for Ike,” said defender Erik Palmer-Brown. “It wasn’t intentional, but it’s tough to see one of your teammates, a leader on your team, the rock on the defense, a guy that has dragged me along kind of like my older brother. It’s tough to see him go down. But for us, we saw how hard the was playing and all the effort the has given us this year. We were doing it not only for the Pattersons after that, we had extra motivation for Ike.”

Sadly, missing extended time due to injury is not an unfamiliar situation for Opara. While with the San Jose Earthquakes, Opara suffered season-ending foot injuries in 2010 and 2011. He suffered a concussion in 2012, causing him to miss a month of the season, and then endured season-ending ankle and Achilles injuries in 2014 and 2015. While his season may not be over, Opara will almost certainly miss extended time due to the severe nature of the concussion. Urruti, who was sent off for the kick and was visibly distraught, checked on Opara in the Sporting KC locker room after his ejection.

Though Sporting KC ultimately won the match, 3-0, in a game featuring three red cards, it came at a very steep cost in losing their potential Defender of the Year. They’ll have to advance to the semifinals, and the latter parts of the regular season, without Opara.


  1. Injuries have derailed Opara for years, and it looks like this will be the one to sideline him this time. Once you’ve had a serious concussion you will be prone to repeat concussions in the future….look at Chad Marshall. He went in and out of his team for a nearly a season and a half before he fully healed. Twellman never fully recovered….and now we’re stuck with him as a commentator.

    Looking on the bright side, for the USMNT at least, this should finally force SKC to play EPB, which will be good for his development and assist in prepping him for a move/transition to Europe once his contract expires.

  2. I once got biked in the face just after clearing a ball out on a header. Mouse over my eye, two black eyes, and most amusingly for a day or two I could make out the stitching of his soccer shoe on my face. Some people are saying he’s snakebit but some degree of this is an occupational hazard of physical aerial defense play. I figured someone would notice me sneaking behind them and heading the ball out. It’s a percent risk of my aggressive play meets their intent to bike in a crowd.

  3. Always thought he’d eventually be back in the mix for the USMNT if only he could stay healthy. He’s pretty close to the level of athlete John Brooks is and might be a better pure defender, and he’s not a terrible distributor out of the back the way, say, Matt Hedges is.

    Getting bike kicked in the head is just shockingly snakebit for the guy.

  4. Nasty kick to the neck/chin. Knocked him out cold in mid air, he then landed on his side hitting his head again. The guy can’t catch a break. Hope he is ok.


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