Opara Continues to Juggle Class, Soccer

Ike Opara continues his double-life as a professional athlete and a college student

Ike Opara 041010_Getty3

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With goals in two of his first three professional matches,
Earthquakes rookie center back Ike Opara has shown how tough it is for
MLS defenses to stop him.

Maybe those opponents ought to consider
signing some members of the faculty at Wake Forest.

Opara, the
No. 3 pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft after three seasons with the Demon
Deacons, has been juggling classes at the North Carolina university
along with his MLS duties ever since training camp began.

Through
Saturday’s 2-0 win over New England -- a victory cemented by Opara’s
header off a Bobby Convey corner in the 72nd minute -- the schedule has
worked adequately for both sides. Opara usually spends the first half of
a given week at Wake Forest, flies out to join the team on Wednesday,
and stays until the weekend before flying back to Winston-Salem.

With
the end of Wake Forest’s term coming up, however, that might not work
this week. And that would knock a big hole in a San Jose defense that
has given up only one goal in its last two MLS matches -- after allowing
50 last season.

“Right now, I’m hitting a road bump,” Opara
said. “Hopefully I can get back out here next week, but I’m starting to
hit a little conflict, so we’ll see what happens. Frank [Yallop, San
Jose’s coach] has been very open about it, my teachers have been very
open about it, so I’m going to see what I can work out this week so
hopefully I can be back.”

Opara said he will be working on
“finals, projects, papers and group projects” this week.

“It’s
been a whirlwind, but I’ve been enjoying it,” Opara said. “I’ve done
well so far; this has really been my first conflict coming up.”

If
Opara is unavailable, the Quakes will probably either slot Bobby
Burling into Opara’s center-back position alongside Jason Hernandez or
move Brandon McDonald, who has been starting as a defensive center
midfielder, to the back line.

Geoff Lepper covers the
Earthquakes for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached at sanjosequakes@gmail.com.
Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.