CARSON, Calif. – One of the most surprising aspects of the LA Galaxy’s recent run to the postseason has been the emergence of rookie center back Kofi Opare.
The 23-year-old defender has started the last five matches for the Galaxy since filling in for the injured Leonardo on Sept. 29. Even though the Brazilian has returned to full fitness, Opare has held the position with his intelligent play alongside center back Omar Gonzalez.
Associate head coach Dave Sarachan admitted that Opare’s rise truly began at the MLS Combine when the Galaxy spotted a talented, but raw defender from Michigan.
“It’s a little surprising. At the combine, we saw a guy who was a little raw, but he was purely a centerback. He wasn’t a guy where we were going to say that ‘maybe we can convert him into something else’ and we needed a center back,” said Sarachan. “We thought that he was a couple that stood out as far as his pure defending; now all the other stuff, dealing with pressure, playing at the next level was a mystery. I think that he’s grown in the position by getting reserve games and training with [the back four] and he’s just accelerated. He’s got a brain for it as well.”
Opare will need to use that wily nature on Sunday when he takes on RSL forward Alvaro Saborio, who will be expected to test the rookie from the start.
“From what I know about Saborio is that he’s a physical striker. He has very good technique. He definitely is one of the target stars on the team so it’s definitely not going to be easy going up against him but I think throughout the week the players and coaching staff are going to educate me further on the way he plays and his tendencies so I’m looking forward to that matchup if I am fortunate to start the weekend.”