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QUICK TAKE: Ike Opara
by Ridge Mahoney, April 20th, 2010 3:11AM

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TAGS:  mls, san jose earthquakes

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[MLS] Quakes rookie defender Ike Opara scored his second goal in as many games, heading home a Bobby Convey corner kick to clinch a 2-0 victory against New England Saturday. Paired in central defense with Jason Hernandez, he also helped shut down former college teammate Jack Schilawski, who had scored a hat trick against Toronto but was substituted in the San Jose game. Afterward, he rushed to catch an overnight flight back to Winston-Salem, N.C., where he is completing the academic year at Wake Forest. ...

SOCCER AMERICA:
So are you getting to like this jet-set existence: fly in, train for a day, score a goal, fly back? How are your teammates reacting?

IKE OPARA:
Jason Hernandez gave me crap after the game. He said, ‘I’ve been here all these years, and you fly in and get goals and leave.’ It’s been a whirlwind, and he’s helped me handle it like a pro. Getting used to it is very difficult, but I’m definitely happy I’m experiencing something like this.

SOCCER AMERICA: We’re told your workload is pretty heavy this week and you might not be able to play Saturday against Chivas USA. How is this affecting your studies?

OPARA:
I’ve done well so far; this has really been my first conflict coming up. My teachers have been very understanding and so has the team, so hopefully I can make it back in time next weekend.

SA: Your success at Wake (eight goals in 65 games, a national title in 2007) and with the U.S. under-20s (started every game at the 2009 world championships) is well documented, but you also played PDL (Premier Development League) for the Cary Railhawks. How much did that affect your development and how good was the competition?

OPARA: PDL, it depends who you’re playing. Some games were better than others. But it helped getting games in the middle of the summer, because it’s hard to find good games when I wasn’t active with the U-20s. To get those good PDL games in and move onto the U-20s was very important for me.

SA: Your former Wake teammate Jack Schilawski also played PDL with you. He got three in that D.C. game, but tonight you outscored him, 1-0.

OPARA:
We used to ride together. It was fun. He’s a good guy and a good player, but tonight we kept him off the board. Sometimes that’s how it happens.

SOCCER AMERICA: Coach Frank Yallop says one factor in your adaptation to the pro game is you played in a similar system at Wake. What are the common concepts of those systems?

OPARA:
We just try to find movement off the ball, try to play as a unit. Also, we try to get forward as quickly as possible. When it’s on, go. If not, keep it. We all clicked tonight and hopefully we can keep it going.



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