Opare’s NPSL Experience Provides Long-Term Benefits

Kofi Opare’s single season with Detroit City FC provided the defender with a memorable and valuable summer.  It didn’t take him long to fall in love with the city, club, and supporters.

“I didn’t play there very long, but it was a great experience for me,” Opare said after a preseason training session with D.C. United.

Former Detroit City FC head coach Kylie Stannard was quick to share positive thoughts on Opare’s contributions in 2012.

“Kofi was a big time addition to the club, and especially in its first year of existence.  He came in about halfway through the season and I don’t give automatic positions to anyone so he was very humble and respected the fact he had to earn the opportunity to represent the club and the fans in the games.  We had a pretty good pairing of center defenders with guys that had been there from the start, like captain Josh Rogers and Adam Bedell.  Kofi didn’t even dress for the first couple of games, but was very patient and had a great attitude.  Once he got his opportunities he did an excellent job.  He is a class player and a great young man to coach.  Very happy to see him go into MLS and have a nice career.”

The Ghanaian defender went on from his college career at the University of Michigan to the LA Galaxy in 2013. Opare recorded one goal in 12 appearances for the Galaxy, and recorded a pair of clean sheets in his 11 starts.  Following his stint with the Galaxy, Opare was traded to D.C. United, where he has remained since 2014. The defender has been a regular fixture with United, making 27 starts for the Washington, D.C. side.

Now in 2017, Opare has just one clear-cut goal for the Black-and-Red.

“We want to win MLS Cup.  That’s always the goal, that’s where we hope to be at the end of December.”

Along with the hope for his squad, the 26-year-old also has simple aspirations for himself in the upcoming MLS season, which begins when D.C. United takes on Sporting Kansas City on March 4th.

“I just want to play and help the team win.  That’s basically it, just contribute to this team in any way I can.”

Opare has contributed to the success of many teams over the years. At Michigan he and the Wolverines reached the NCAA national semi-final in 2010 before being eliminated by eventual national champions Akron. Opare appeared in 76 matches during his Michigan career, and ranks eighth and fifth in matches started and minutes played, respectively. Opare was named to both the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and the All-Big Ten Second Team during his time in Ann Arbor.

Opare credits Detroit City and the NPSL for keeping him sharp for his successful college career.

“That’s probably the biggest thing, being able to stay sharp during the summer, and I was able to play with some of my teammates so it helped a lot with chemistry.”

Even though he only spent one season for Detroit City FC, Opare could feel the energy from the team’s passionate supporters.

“The crowds there was a totally different experience.  The passion and support from the fans was absolutely incredible.”

The Mampong, Ghana native lived in Pretoria, South Africa; Newark, New Jersey; and finally stayed in Niagara Falls, Canada. The roughly 12,000 miles of moving raised many questions regarding Opare’s national team eligibility; the then 18-year-old Opare spent time with the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team. The defender expressed interest in joining the Canadian National Team before learning that recent changes to FIFA eligibility restrictions prevented him from being eligible for the squad. FIFA requires players to live in a country for five years after the age of 18, while Opare only lived in Canada for four years, before he was even 18. Opare eventually applied for and was granted Canadian citizenship, but would still need a waiver to be eligible for their national team. He is still eligible to play for the national teams of Ghana and the United States though.

Though Detroit City was one of Opare’s many landing spots on his journey towards MLS, the support and fanfare of the club and its supporters, along with the bond it helped create with his college teammates, it’s safe to say that Detroit City and the NPSL played a major role in Opare’s young professional career.

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