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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @sjquakes.