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D.C. United season review: Kofi Opare

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How important is the starting center back?

At the start of the 2017 season, few people would have figured on Kofi Opare being a regular starter by the end of the year. Ben Olsen had been experimenting with Sean Franklin as Steve Birnbaum’s center back partner, and Bobby Boswell was still on the team, so Opare looked to be fourth choice at best. It wasn’t long, however, before Opare moved up the depth chart. Franklin didn’t work out as a center back, opening the door for Boswell to move into the starting lineup on April 1st, and then a Birnbaum concussion a couple of weeks later opened the door for Opare to start on April 22nd. He would start 25 of the remaining 28 league matches, playing 87% of the minutes the rest of the way.

It’s no surprise that Opare, a 6’2” center back, is good in the air. His 2.8 aerial duels won per 90 minutes was 32nd among all players in the league, and he was 11th among players with 900 minutes or more. His aerial presence became more of an asset this season on set pieces than in any previous year, as he logged 32 shots this season after having totaled just 19 shots combined over his previous four MLS seasons. He scored two goals, one of which came in the 6th minute of the August 5th game against Toronto (which also featured a Birnbaum own goal to allow Toronto to leave with a 1-1 draw), and his one assist came on Luciano Acosta’s 71st minute winner against New England on August 26th.

Heading into 2018, United’s defense is in transition. The defense is deserving of its share of blame for the team’s 2017 performance, and now Bill Hamid has gone to Denmark. If I was writing the checks, I’d be looking to make some serious improvements at the back and in goal. That said, Opare’s 2017 guaranteed $120K is more than palatable for a 27-year-old who just played 26 matches for the team. Considering all of that:

Poll

Do you want Kofi Opare back for the 2018 season?

This poll is closed

  • 95%
    Yes
    (115 votes)
  • 4%
    No
    (5 votes)
120 votes total Vote Now