Ike Opara: The Hunter | #AskASoccerPro Show Ep. 063
Veteran pro soccer players Ike Opara and Quincy Amarikwa break down the grind that is MLS.
Check out what Ike and Quincy discussed this week:
00:00 – 07:12: We’ve Got ALL the Content
07:12 – 14:30: Ike Opara Joins the Live!
14:31 – 18:10: Great Expectations vs Self-Sabotage
18:11 -23:52: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
23:53 – 26:05: MSL. Suck it up!
26:09 – 29:23: But Have You SEEN Ike’s FIFA Card?
29:24 – 32:41: Stay in School!
33:49 – 39:12: Soccer is a Business
39:13 – 42:10: A Student of the Game
42:13 – 49:02: The Grind
49:03 – 53:21: Appreciating Every Game
52:23 – 56:48: The Value of MLS Vets
56:50 – 58:10: The Hunters
58:15- 59:34: Next Time: Sam Mewis
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*Interview transcript is unedited and machine-generated. There will be errors. For further clarity please refer to the audio or video.
Quincy Amarikwa (00:11):
Zuri said, hello. What's going on? Zuri K 23 Hampton. What's happening Jay pro skills. Hello. Hello ghosty. Welcome to the live rail. Admit welcome Philly union memes saw you on my personal now seeing you on the perfect soccer account. Welcome. Welcome Ryan. Mash Be Pro general manager joining in on the live kind of definitely help you guys out with answering some of your questions. Shout out him and all of his
Quincy Amarikwa (00:43):
Athletes and a kid said, we'll be joining ghost. He said, I played for coach Ryan. Yo, shout out ghosty you know, you've got yourself a great mentor and coach in Ryan. Definitely, definitely show him some love and always, always question him in what he's teaching you. That's important. Always question what you're learning, but know that he's a, he's a smart dude and he's working really hard to make sure that he's giving you guys the best content around to help you improve as fast as possible. Paul, welcome in. What's going on brother? Lead audio engineer of perfect soccer, always popping into live and helping us manage the accounts and get your guys's questions answered.
Quincy Amarikwa (01:33):
Oh, let's see. Joe Jackson. Welcome. Welcome Mario. Paneda what's going on? Joe Jackson hit with time in your head emojis. Loving that. Yo, if everyone can hear me. All right. Spam that heart button and dropping some. I'm in your head emojis. Let me know if you can hear me. All right, I'm coming in. Okay. So we can start getting into giving you guys just an update on the state of the union of just what's going on in the world and what's going on on my side of things. Loving that scene. Everybody's spammed that heart button. Yeah, you guys are hearing me. All right. Let me also let me know.
Quincy Amarikwa (02:09):
Mo Mo joy is all said Brian's also his coach. Welcome, happy to have you guys are gonna really love this one. Earl Edwards just joined in, Welcome Earl. Happy to see you. Afro match. Said max said much love for perfect soccer and then dropped in the, I'm in your head. Emojis. Ben Jammin. What's going on brother? Trevor Willis. Zuri you guys know, you guys get me juiced up. You get me fuck. You get the MSL bring in, you bring it out, you bring the energy out, loving it, loving it, loving it, loving it. Yeah. So what is going on? Everybody knows or doesn't know what's going on right now. That's most, most important. Everybody knows that. They don't know what's going on right now. It's a state of confusion in the world,
Quincy Amarikwa (02:57):
But we thrive in chaos. That's what the MSL mindset is you guys. And that's what we've been preparing for. So we're prepared. We're a state of calm. We are composed. We showcase our composure and exhibit our character in times like this. And I'm happy to have you guys around. I'm loving seeing T Gabriel, real, real Mitt dropping the, I mean your head emojis go C's dropping. I'm in your head emojis. I'm loving seeing everybody. For those of you who are just tuning in for the first time ever, or you don't know where you have stumbled yourself into, I'd love to welcome everybody to the hashtag ask a soccer pro show. I am your host 11 year MLS pro, which would be my 12th year if MLS. Didn't shut down, but everybody knows that MSL is greater than MLS. Was that a Quinspiracy? Is that a Quincidence? Are we in times where we're learning about what the MSL is? Because 2020 is about vision. Didn't I tell you guys a couple months ago, 2020 is going to be all about the vision. I think I said that. I think I told you guys. And for those of you who didn't know
Quincy Amarikwa (04:05):
The MSL is the mental strength league and every Thursday at 6:00 PM PST, 9:00 PM EST, I go live here on the perfect underscore soccer account to break down the MSL, the mental strength league. It's a game where you're either actively a participant and you join us here every Thursday to learn ways to improve, thrive and just Excel at the game. Or you're actively getting played in the game and you don't even know it. But that's okay because you've come here to
Quincy Amarikwa (04:37):
Learn how to learn and enlighten yourself. And that's what we're here to do. Cause teamwork equals dream work, core value here at perfect soccer. And we're building a community, an active growing community that grows born more with every passing week. And I'm happy to see all of you guys here joining in on the live drop in your arm and your head emojis and sharing what you've learned from the MSL so far. So for those of you who have been a part of the perfect soccer brand for a while and have been down with the MSL, I'd love for you guys to educate the newcomers as to what it is that you've learned, what you're taking away from the brand and what you feel is so valuable about being a part of this growing community. Cause you guys know what it is here. We over deliver value leaving every exchange having given more than we received.
Quincy Amarikwa (05:21):
And that is a reason. And that is a principle here. And that is the reason why we've been able to create what we have so far and why we're going to build a monster here in 20, 20 and beyond. And for a lot of people out here who are struggling not knowing what to do cause they're out of content, especially, I'm seeing a lot of these, a lot of these sports leagues running out of content because you know, most, most soccer highlights aren't evergreen other than like world ease of goals and stuff like that. But you can only watch those for so long. And then what are you going to do? Well I'll let you know what you're going to do. You can head over to [inaudible] dot com slash radio and make sure you go and re not if you haven't listened before, go and listen, if you've listened before, go and re listen to all the previous episodes of the hashtag ask the soccer pro show and get that MSL knowledge downloaded into your brain.
Quincy Amarikwa (06:16):
Because who you are today is not who you were a year ago. And you might pick up even more gems today. Re listening to previous episodes. Our content is evergreen, which means we have unlimited content, unlimited wisdom and unlimited knowledge that we can download and implement. But yes, I'm excited for today. For those of you who might not be aware, we are going to be having our guests. I owe Parra two times, I think two time MLS defender of the year MLS cup champion with Kansas city sporting Kansas city and NCAA champion joining in to help us better understand and break down the mentality of the top high level. Send her back in major league soccer. So if you guys are excited for that,
Quincy Amarikwa (07:12):
Quincy Amarikwa (07:12):
Let me know. Oh and the man of the hour has just arrived and you know what? Let's, I'm just going to bring him in quick and we're just going to get straight into,
Quincy Amarikwa (07:23):
If you've got any questions, make sure you're dropping them in the comments in the comment section there Earl helps us get those questions together, the best ones he sends in and then I get them going over on that side. Yo, what's going on brother?
Ike Opara (07:37):
My guy, I hadn't seen you in a minute. You know, not much man. He's staying inside like hopefully everyone else.
Quincy Amarikwa (07:44):
Yes, yes. But even in, even indoors, we can, we can increase our knowledge with every passing day.
Ike Opara (07:53):
That's the goal, man. Picking up new hobbies. I've been in the reading anyways, so I'm just furthering on with that. But yeah, I'm just trying new things as much as I can stay sane like the rest of us to be honest.
Quincy Amarikwa (08:07):
I like that. I like that we're going to have, we're going to have some fun. So, okay. You pointed out that you said, Hey, it's been some time since you've seen me, so set a little bit of context for the fans and people who are joining in. How do we, how do we know each other and what do you mean by it's been a while since you've seen me?
Ike Opara (08:25):
Yeah, for sure. No when we got drafted to San Jose, you were there and yeah, we spent a little time together before you ended up getting traded as Colorado. But yeah, it was always, you were, you were fired. You actually know what and in a wild way it's got my mentality cause he, we still have some college and professional. You don't really know what to expect. And here you are, you know, out there just giving it a hundred. And it was like, and you were afforded number the cornerbacks and we're matching up quite a bit. And so I knew that there wasn't any easy day going against you was actually excellent night. My my my setting into a professional life. But last time I saw you, and honestly I remember those days so much that when I would play, you just like, man, just don't hurt me. You know, you don't really have a stop, you know? And so like you just keep running through people and so, and you're, and you're strong. Like you're one of the stronger sports. And so I'm like, man, come on bro. Like, and you know, we kind of know each other. I don't think we leave a foot in, you know, with me, with someone else. I still have it in the back of my mind.
Quincy Amarikwa (09:37):
Leaving a foot in, bro. Come on bro.
Ike Opara (09:41):
Like something like that on my, come on now, I've got time for this. I just, you know, I'm just trying to make it through this 90 yo, calm down cause this is how you, right. And so you gotta respect
Quincy Amarikwa (09:53):
Bro. No, I, I appreciate that though. That's funny. Oh man. Yeah. Cause I remember your rookie season was when I was, when we were there with the San Jose earthquakes would freak, Allen brought you guys in. I remember them talking about we got this guy, he's coming in and you know this and I'm like, alright bet bro, let's go bro. You know what I mean? I'm like, yo, let's do this. But it's interesting. It's interesting because and I'm sure we'll get into it more, but for, and I want to let everybody know it's Ike week on the perfect soccer platform. So if you guys haven't checked it out, I did his first, what we're calling kind of like a pre-interview, which is the perfect soccer podcast where on Monday we released that episode. He gave a little bit of a history as to how he got to the professional ranks, what his high school process looked like, what his college recruiting process looked like.
Quincy Amarikwa (10:46):
And now what kind of the initial experience of pro is. So it's kind of, that's great. A great cause he can get the backstory. And what I love about that is we can really get into the meat of mentality. As you know here I talk about the MSL, the mental strength league. I think the only way you make it a long time in this league is if you have if you've dialed in on the, the small differences in mentality, that is the difference between just being an average and being great and having longevity. So for sure it's always interesting for me to hear the perspective of someone like yourself who was there with me. What does that 11 years ago now? Almost one man. Okay. Because my path to pro was much different than most of all the other guys. So that's my first time meeting. Any of you guys, is that the professional level? Cause I wasn't playing you guys in college and stuff. Right. So it's interesting to hear what you guys have to say because I was thinking that that's what everybody was doing. Like I was just confused very long time.
Ike Opara (11:54):
Uh you know, it's wild because, you know, we talked about it on, on the on the, on the podcast, you know, that I do perfect soccer. My, my process was a lot different. You know, I was always an underdog despite what people think you know, always got overlooked, what causes, and I ended up going to a good school, but the process of how it got there was, was unique. And you know, being able to grind it out the way I did and then, you know, able to find success and improve and all of these things. And to the point where, you know, the national youth national can start calling up, you know, so they call me up. And from there I was able to really start to be noticed. And for me that was weird because I had never been, you know, my entire career to that point.
Ike Opara (12:35):
But you know, I've been playing toxins for, and so this Florida, you know, age 20, so 15 years give or take. And I'd always been, you know, yeah, people knew I had ability, but I'd always, always been overlooked. There's always someone better on my team that people wanted or whatever the case. And so it was different because then at that point in time, you know, I came in then and when they must shop this big especially, you know, I was the third overall pick. And at that point in time, there was a first time in my life that I ever had expectations that weren't, you know, underdog like that I had an expectation of, you know, greatness or, or this and that. And I wasn't used to that. Right. Like, and so I got there, you know, not knowing that, you know, this is what it's like.
Ike Opara (13:16):
And, you know, I had to, I, I've kept thinking, you know, I was, you know, doing the things I've always done and I didn't realize, you know, until I got older a little bit how I let maybe those expectations you know, weigh me down a bit and had injuries and have overcome of those things. And now I felt like I was down in a lot of aspects and you know, until I was able to grasp that notion of, Hey, it's not important, you know, what I'm doing and you know, the work that I'm putting in and, and everything that I need to do it trusting myself. And from there, that's what I've started to really take off. You know, when I was able to get back and the last thing I needed, right. Oh, the thing that I needed was, you know, that chip on my own shoulder.
Ike Opara (13:55):
Cause that's, that's my most athletes were always our biggest critics. And that was a no different for me. And so when I was able to channel that into a positive AI, I was really able to take off because that's how I've always been. I've always been overlooked and to be overwhelmed. You know, even when I got traded, you know, took or from Kansas city, you know, there was a that's saying, you know, we be worth it and this and that. And I loved it like that. For me, that's what I needed to give him that resurgence because I need that to kind of seed. You know, my facial hunger I guess at times.
Quincy Amarikwa (14:30):
I got you. Okay. So now that's good. I'm going to die. Let's dive deeper into that and kind of extrapolate that out in terms of kind of your career. So I've talked about that to a lot of people in the channel and most aren't. Most don't believe that if it's between everyone overlooking you and you have nobody supporting you versus everyone's looking at you and they support you and you have all the tools and resources, the easier one to deal with and to be successful in is when everyone overlooks you. Yup. And, and most people say, why when you have all the tools and the resources and this and that and the other why do you believe first, why do you believe it's easier? And that's why what you prefer and to how were you able to, how were you able to manufacture the underdog or did you, did you PR, did you self-sabotage so that you could re we rise again. So what was your approach?
Ike Opara (15:32):
You know, I think it's case by case, you know what side you are, but I would say majority, you know, are probably going to be on the side of, you know, being overlooked. And, and it being easier. You know, for me, you know, it was you know, I just, it's always, I mean, the, the different challenges when you say this, but you know, to be the Hunter, you know, was something that I relished, you know, to get to the top, you know, when you like. And it's always something you can do to get to the top. And don't get me wrong when you get there, it's not easy to stay there, but there's a, a human nature that makes you relax sometimes as opposed to when you're down and you're grinding in the valleys more so than in, you know, then the peaks, you're, you know, it takes you, you keep, you keep wanting more.
Ike Opara (16:19):
And so for me personally, you know, I, I, I wouldn't say I self-sabotage, at least not knowingly, but I think I, I think I was able to, you know, especially as I've gotten older, I've been able to find motivations, keep me striving for more. I think that that's always the important part because you know, there are times when, you know, you go do a low and you know, you'll necessarily become complacent, but you'll start to lose a little bit of that hunger. And you know, it's like, well, it's a little bit different now as opposed to when you know you're trying to climb, you're not losing the hunger when you keep trying to climb. And for me that's what I've always, that's just kinda how it's always been. You know, me trying to figure out a way to actually or not keep striving the street and keep climbing and it seems to work.
Quincy Amarikwa (17:21):
I got you. I got you. So, okay, so I'm thinking through, I'm thinking about how you've shared kind of what your story was and how you got to where, where you are and the things that, the things that you saw as your advantages and disadvantages along along your process. Right. When you first got to, let's see, cause I think you're lagging there. Wait to see everybody. Let me know if you can still hear me. Give me a thumbs up if you could see if you can hear me. Well we'll see if he'll get called back in here and I'll answer a couple of questions. Other would go like you back.
Quincy Amarikwa (18:23):
There are a couple of questions here and we'll, and we'll get him back in here in a minute. But Bobby [inaudible], Bobby Berlin, what's going on? And then I saw Corban bone had joined in as well too. What's going on Corbyn? Welcome brother. Thanks for popping by seeing what's going on. That's internet has the Rona. Okay, good. I'm glad that everybody can still hear and if there's any more technical difficulties we'll drop back in. Yo, what's going on Ben? You're back. Yep. Dropped a drop there. All right, cool. So what we'll make sure cause I want to make sure that we start, we keep, keep doing this. I'll go back and forth cause I can always go deep and keep, keep going, keep going. I want to make sure that we're getting some questions that are coming in here from the audience as well too. While we're at it and I know I'm now, I'm getting Earl's probably scrambling to make sure that he's dropping some questions in that. So let me see what we had over here. Sorry. That's a couple, cause I though you said I'm going to,
Quincy Amarikwa (19:28):
Quincy Amarikwa (19:28):
Bring some in cause I didn't know how long it's gonna take for you to hop back in, but all right what I'll do is guys, if you got some of your questions, drop them in the box and then I'll make sure that I I ask Ike I like some of them and Earl will start getting those together. But okay, so from that perspective and the one that you shared of kind of what your experience was like by the time you got to the got to San Jose earthquakes, what I can remember right, is I go, okay I, I joined joints. But you had, you had signed under generation Adidas and at that point in time, right. That was like pretty, like, that was pretty legit at that time. That's like top tier. Right. And I know that you were still taking classes, so I remember this dude was flying in for games but also flying out for tests and and finishing your degree. And I remember, I can't remember if it was you had told me directly or if I kinda heard, but I, I knew that a big, a big factor in you being able to, to sign early and leave school or to leave school early was because your parents said that you still needed to finish your education, right. Or, or, or maintain that while you were in it.
Quincy Amarikwa (20:45):
I think you're cutting out again there or run into a little bit of technical difficulties with the ICC and we'll keep getting them back in here as we can. Because you said how important is teamwork and what part does it play in your own individual success? Ooh, that is a heavy question. How important is teamwork? I think knowing how to work in a team is extremely important, but understanding that those who typically get the most success in professional sports are the ones who are most selfish. So it's, it's finding the balance between when you can be selfish, when it's okay to be selfish and when it's in the best interest to make sure you're playing for the team. Because if you're so selfish that you're taking advantage of all the opportunities or you're making, you're creating less opportunities for your teammates and in the long run your team won't do well, which means you don't do well. So I think you should try to find win-win scenarios so that you're finding the moments to be selfish, that are also the right moments that are in the best interest of your team, which is a good one. And all right. I know IQ you dropped out a little bit there. You back.
Ike Opara (22:02):
I don't know what's going on anymore.
Quincy Amarikwa (22:04):
Yeah, I do as well. So we'll keep going. Cause I think it's going back and forth again with his internet. Maybe he's got to find a new location. Zuri asks, how do you keep up with all this stuff outside of soccer? Well, speaking to the question about tune work or working in the team, the way in which I've been able to survive outside of soccer is because I spent and invest a lot of my time, effort and energy into building my team, investing in my team and, and, and working collaboratively. So the perfect soccer community is a growing community and it's in, it's growing because those are who are a part of the community, contribute to it, help us improve it over time and the mentality and the mindset that we're approaching everything with.
Quincy Amarikwa (22:53):
So I believe investing in team is the longterm winners. A way to approach about going about things. And I think that if you're committed to building a team, you have to understand that in the short term you'll tell [inaudible], but in the longer term it will benefit you the greatest in the future because your team will be able to help support the parts of you and the parts of things that you might not necessarily be the best at or you might not want to spend your time on. And now that's coming down to more like what your purchase. So hopefully, yeah, John John just dropped teamwork. Makes the dream and he knows that yo RQ. Okay. You back bro. I don't know what's going on.
Ike Opara (23:54):
Everyone's using the same internet since everyone has to be a home. I don't know.
Quincy Amarikwa (23:58):
Yeah, no, it's all good. So that's all good. So if you drop out again, I'll just jump into the comment sections. I answer a couple of questions and we're back at it, bro. Everyone fill bro, adapt or die. We're not worried.
Speaker 4 (24:09):
I guess that's true. You have to be able to adapt to them. Alaska is arguably one of the biggest characteristics needed for a person in the sleep.
Speaker 3 (24:17):
Yes. And I think most people give us the, the cliche retirement league. You guys don't understand football and all that, all that crap. But the people when they come over here, they can't survive because there's too, there's too many Mickey mouse rules and different, just ridiculous scenarios that you're going to get thrown into that even the, the best of players can't, can't adapt to you cause it's just
Quincy Amarikwa (24:47):
Quincy Amarikwa (24:49):
As you don't understand what it's like to just like show up in Houston in 110 degree weather at four o'clock in the afternoon for a game that you just traveled to the day before. I don't care how good you are, if you don't have that type of experience, you don't know what it is until you're in there. So yeah, Leah said we like Ike. That's what I'm talking about. What do you think is the hardest becoming a pro? I think the, the hardest part in becoming a pro is learning what it, what it actually means and what it takes to be a professional so that that comes to the business side of the game as well as, and when's the, when's the right time to
Quincy Amarikwa (25:44):
When's the right time to move on? When's the right time to suck it up? And, and and and
Speaker 2 (25:51):
Quincy Amarikwa (25:53):
And do what's asked of you in the moment, even though it might not seem like it's in your best interest. I think understanding the politics of it as well as, as the physical aspect is, is what's most difficult.
Quincy Amarikwa (26:08):
Quincy Amarikwa (26:09):
Yeah. Oz [inaudible] have you seen your fee? The card? I was gonna I was going to bring that up to Ike, so hopefully, hopefully he can get something sorted out with his internet over there and we can ask him a couple of questions, but I heard he's got, he's got some massive stats and FEEP people, ultimate team. So honestly if he, if he's seen that yet, cause I think he's gone viral over on YouTube, but I'm sure he's someone has it. Someone's done. Definitely let him know and he's gotta be aware of it. Yeah. Yeah. You hear a lot of things going on.
Ike Opara (26:48):
I can't, I can't hear, I can't, I can't speak on it, but I heard the last one, the fee for open FIBA card. You know, I don't, I don't know much about the ultimate team [inaudible] but I get it. I'm not gonna lie. I, I, I don't like the messages. I don't, they, they flood my inbox or my text messages and I'm like, I don't even play FIFA anymore. Like I don't understand it. I never have I've seen it. I know, I know. It's like legit from what everyone has told me. But no, I don't, I mean, I wish it's a little bit weird playing with yourself on the, on the, in a video game. So yeah, I haven't played that game in a while.
Quincy Amarikwa (27:32):
Yes, sorry. Yeah. Apparently your character in the game is like an ultimate beast, which is like a, it's like the ACE and the ACE up the sleeve, which is, which is spearheading the legitimacy of MLS around the world. So, so, Hey bro. Hey [inaudible] you might, you might be onto something here and people are going to become massively aware of some things here. Suit.
Ike Opara (28:00):
Okay. Yeah, no, yeah. This is what I knew. It was like legit. When I, when I was at Kansas city, I had a couple of the teammates would be like, have you seen your fee for court? I buy you waiting time and like, yo your, he may like,
Speaker 3 (28:12):
Ike Opara (28:14):
Dr large. Oh, I guess you'd pick up trash or terrible. I get it. Yeah. You're like and feature them. You know what I mean?
Quincy Amarikwa (28:21):
Oh, that was always weird. Back like the backwards comment, right? Like, ah, bro, in real life I think you're trash. But on FIFA you're legit, you're legit. So like, like in real life. But on FIFA, on paper though, I know
Ike Opara (28:38):
I got over it, but it was, it was always one of those ones. I'm like, yeah, I get it. Like, I know this silver card or gold, I don't even know [inaudible]
Ike Opara (28:46):
Ike Opara (28:48):
Should know because I keep hearing about all the time, but I don't actually know.
Quincy Amarikwa (28:52):
Okay, well that's good. You, you're a, you're focused on, on maintaining your focus on maintaining your level. So your FIFA card stays high. You're not worried about the people card. The people card comes as a result of the work you do.
Ike Opara (29:06):
That's true. It's always the work you every go to have success anyway. Yeah. P yeah. Good things come from it. Regardless of, you know, it'd be a video game or a sponsorship or you know, other teams in the league. So always good. Always good to be I guess acknowledged in ways.
Quincy Amarikwa (29:24):
So the, the question I was wanting to get around to you when before the technical difficulties there was saying from what I remember of the time when I was there, I remember we had kind of established, you were a generation Adidas, which was kind of, if people don't know what that is, we'll look that up. But the main thing was I had remembered, or my understanding was the only way your parents were giving you the permission to sign that contract early was if your education and them paying and accommodating your travel back and forth for finishing school was a part of that. Was that true?
Ike Opara (30:02):
You know, it was one of the things that so new Yorko had kinda did that the year before. And so I had known that. And so that was something that I wanted to do. Cause I thought about leaving for my sophomore year, but I wanted to get another year in school and I wanted to, you know, at that time I was in a youth house, so it, stuff was coming up that following year. And so I figured, you know, if I was able to perform, their leverage would have been on my side and you know, opportunities abroad would have been possibility or possible. So now I kind of wanted to leave all those open. And I ended up going home today and I remember, okay, I want to, I was so close to finishing my undergrad and I want to be able to, you know, I went to wake forest for a reason.
Ike Opara (30:42):
I wanted to go to wake because I enjoyed the school. I enjoyed the team, but most of the academics as well. And so I was like, you know, I was committed to wanting to get my workforce degree. I'd already spent that much time in. I didn't really want to transfer and get it done somewhere else. So you know, I'd kind of had that worked into the contract, you know, and you know, my parents obviously are, you know, the big in education and they, you know, they, they would have been fine if I didn't, but they definitely, you know, wanted me to finish at some point and I was like, this was the easiest option. But it was crazy man, because on a normal week would be like you were there. Like I fly in on a Wednesday, Wednesday night train, Thursday, Friday, play in the game Saturday, leave on a red eye, Saturday would land in Charlotte across the country, land in Charlotte, drive, drive back to wake an hour and 20 minute drive and, and like get there, let's say around noon and right away meet with like groups or professors or whatever to catch up on the studies that I kind of missed.
Ike Opara (31:45):
So, I mean, Sunday class, Monday, Tuesday, we'll leave out the class again. And I would do that pretty much every week aside from like spring break where I could be there the whole week or certain weeks of the class schedule was slower. I could, you know, arrange. But it was like, and I know the worst part about it too was, you know, I was coming in, you know, and playing in some of these games and you guys had been the, Oh, we training and training and that would show up like, you know, two days in and be in the lineup and, you know, do the same. And there were guys that I was like, I, I couldn't even look in the eye, you know, guys in my own positions. Cause I was like, I looked the legitimate me so bad. I don't know. It was, it was a very, especially being a young rookie, like, and you know, yeah, guys like yourself, the mentality that you had and that team in general had different mentalities across the board. But it, it was like an interesting vibe. One that really got me into and to realize more importantly, that's a business.
Speaker 2 (32:45):
Quincy Amarikwa (32:55):
Oh, you cut out there for me. You had said you realize it's a business, but I can't hear. You
Quincy Amarikwa (33:12):
Might need a drop out again and then pop back in. Ooh, let's see.
Quincy Amarikwa (33:22):
Yes, I'd seen the question I wanted to ask. I'll definitely ask. So I can ask the answer to this one. Oh, there we go. Thanks. Drop them back.
Quincy Amarikwa (33:36):
Okay, so did
Quincy Amarikwa (33:49):
Quincy Amarikwa (33:49):
There we go. Yeah, I can hear you. So you had said that you had said, ah, that's when you realized it was a business and then what?
Ike Opara (33:56):
Yeah, and you know, and not all national team environments necessarily care about, you know, sometimes the day to day practice they care about the result on the weekend. So that was another, you know, step in mentality of, okay, this is what it's about. At the end of the day, it's winning games. And you know, the sacrifices that are made sometimes aren't always in the best interest of every player, but you know, in the best interest of really the team in ways.
Quincy Amarikwa (34:27):
Got you. No, and that's an important, I'm glad that you kind of highlighted that cause that's a really important to understand the difference between the amateur level and the professional level, which I think is difficult for many kids to wrap their head around. So over. So Ryan mash mashes in the comment section. A couple of his kids that are with his, with his team that he's coaching are, are in the call. And I saw that on, on YouTube. So now we, we make sure we respond to all the comments that everyone leaves on YouTube, on the YouTube sections for their P S clips. And I was seeing the theme that a lot of kids were saying that there was a huge jump from their rec league to competitive. And that was a very difficult struggle for them to adapt to. And I'm, I'm likening that is similar to the jump in terms of feeling and the uncertainty.
Quincy Amarikwa (35:14):
And the, and the increase in the level from college to professional and what you had pointed out was definitely wait, hold on. Training during the week doesn't really matter. But everyone would say like that matters just don't lie at the professional level, not if it means we have a better chance of winning on the weekend. If that means you get to rest the whole week and you do your own thing and you show up and we win, then okay. And to your point where you're saying like now every coach and organization has their own idea of what's necessary to win. But if what they believe is necessary to win is allowing you or multiple people to not do anything and just show up on the game on game day and play, that's what's going to happen. And if you're not one of those people or one of those players, you have to learn how to still get better and work on being ready for when your opportunity comes.
Quincy Amarikwa (36:11):
And I also wanted to tie this back, giving people another reason to make sure you go listen to the perfect cycle podcast episode that I could did was that in college you were on that reverse end where you were like number seven, center back on the thing, on the roster. And if it wasn't for the fact that like 14 people got injured in the span of like 20 seconds, right? Yeah. You jumped from not a part of this, nothing to, I'm the starting guy and now I'm not, I'm not losing this spot again. Right? So making sure where we talk about here is stay ready so you don't have to get ready. The MSL mindset is saying, Hey, just because you're not number one today doesn't mean you can't be number one tomorrow. But if your opportunity shows up tomorrow and you aren't prepared, it's nobody's fault but your own.
Quincy Amarikwa (36:58):
So I'd love that from you. In terms of that, and I wanted to make sure all the, all the kids join in on the live, make sure you take that away from there. Especially especially from someone like yourself who's path to where you've gotten to up to this point. And I'm, I'm loving this. It's in and out. It's just like the game substitutions. You know what I'm saying? Like on the fly, it's like a MLS season. Ups, downs, lags stuff doesn't go according to plan, but we still deal with it. Well let's see what we got here.
Quincy Amarikwa (37:43):
Loving this. So I want to make sure that you get this question answered. And then there's a couple others in here that I saw as well too. So once you jumped back in, Oh, once we get him back in here, hopefully we'll be able to get him to answer those ones. Ben asks, how do I get my team to train the things they don't want to but need to in the off season? Oh, you have to show them. You have to show them how doing so benefits them for themselves. So you can't tell them that it's good for them. You have to show them how it's good for them and then they have to believe that and then be willing to do it themselves. So, so a great way in getting them to do that is having them literally watch this here right now because I'm a pro who's played over 11 years. And I can tell them what they think
Quincy Amarikwa (38:36):
Isn't true and they are more inclined to believe me than let's say someone who hasn't done it and that that's no, that's no fault of your own or anybody else's. It's just, that's just humane. That's how our brains are wired. And and sometimes you can't get the message through. You have to get it, you have to get the message through another way. So, you know, I've been investing in running businesses for a long time, but most people see me as a professional soccer player. So sometimes that means it's much harder for me to give that type of information and people onboarded as opposed to if I'm giving you advice about professional soccer. And that goes in every single direction. So, OK. I the question I wanted to make sure that we got answered here because there's two of them in here that I thought were kind of really relevant was the first one is after a game, do you watch yourself play to see where you can improve?
Ike Opara (39:23):
Always. I always watch my own individual clips have to just to see, you know, what I could have done better and that makes sure I get my clips offensively and defensively, even if I don't necessarily impact the ball offensively. Defensively, I want clips that in and around the ball or clips that I could have directed. You know, some, one of my lines may be in front of me. So I always watch that. And then Tim, I'll watch the game as well, just to see what the team setting it looks like and you know, shape. But yeah, and I do it as soon as I get home. Honestly. I like, you know, I'll, I'll hope I'll watch it at, you know, game gets over at 10 or whatever. I'll get home and I'll be watching it after midnight. Just because, you know, I want to see it. And then, Oh, just to see if the things that I thought happened in the game, you know, went down the way I thought. And then I'll watch it the following couple of.
Quincy Amarikwa (40:16):
Got you. So when you're watching the game, so we talked, we've talked about this in the account in the past, watching the game as a student of the game as opposed to watching the game as a, as a spectator or inter as someone who's watching it for the entertainment purposes. So for you, what is the difference between the two? Like what, how were you watching it that you think is different than how most people are watching it?
Ike Opara (40:37):
Yeah, I mean, I get, I rarely watch a game these days, please as a spectator. The only time I'll watch as a spectator woke up or you know, high, high, high end, maybe all Classico kind of thing. But other than that, I'm watching you know, games for breakdown and more so, especially in the less because you can do a little bit scouting on your opponents or whatnot. But I'm watching it for, you know, the fence of shape decisions that center backs make without the ball. You know, I'll be analyzing a center back to movements when this camera is, you know, within their, their shot. And I'll be watching the center back move well before, you know, in relation to the ball. You know, I'm watching like, okay, if the ball goes here, this is in the back, should do this so that, and the ball might not even go there. But it's, I'm always looking at it from a perspective of a center back. So you got pretty much, which is weird, right? Because I am a fan of the game, but it's kind of in a way killed because at the same time I
Ike Opara (41:33):
Grew up in 11, Manchester United and all that. But it's kinda hard to root for teams, you know, when you're worried about your own team and your own livelihoods. So I'm only looking at it these days really for, you know, improvement,
Quincy Amarikwa (41:48):
Loving that. Okay. So that'll tie into the other ones that I'm seeing coming in here. Cause love to get your feedback on that cause I think it's great for other players, parents, coaches to hear, hear it directly from the source, right? Not third party or some random person who's explaining it to you directly from the person who's doing it on a day to day. Okay. So I know just from my experience with you back, but this is again, this is over a decade ago, right? I realized that I, I saw and saw that you struggled with injuries a lot back at that point in time, right? You're more at you, your base operating is an athletic player. You have athletic talents and gifts, right? But the longer you last in the league, you have to learn things beyond just athleticism to maintain yourself for an entire MLS season. And, and it's a grind. It's a grind. Like there's no way around it. It's a grind no matter what. So someone like yourself who might have struggled with injuries earlier in your career, why do you believe that was the case? And what was it that you realized and learned that allows you to take care of your body and avoid injuries at this point in time in your career?
Speaker 4 (43:01):
Yeah some of it was unlucky. I mean, some of the things I couldn't have done it any different, you know, just really unlucky. And some of them were, you know, I needed to learn my body in a way. That's one of the things we're not really taught growing up in school and all sports nutrition, it, you know, we're not taught recovery. We're not taught well a lot of these things. Right. And so you, you find when you get experienced, you know, what works, what doesn't work. And going to Kansas city wasn't great for me because they helped me understand that and understand the regimen that is tailored to me. And you know, like you said, I'm, I'm different than everyone's different. Right. But I'm different than a lot of players and you know, I have to be managed in ways that, you know, I don't, I think I work really hard, but now, you know, it's about, you know, do I work, you know, do I take every rep 100%, I don't need as many reps these days, but I make sure I take the rep game speed. And so, you know, understanding that that's what I need to be able to, you know, get, make sure that I'm good on the weekends. You know, I've found that a routine, a regimen and that, you know, that still gets tinkered how much science is always coming out there. But yeah, I've got my base do. And I think that's what's happened.
Quincy Amarikwa (44:41):
Okay. I think you dropped out there and I'm liking, I'm liking that in terms of like what he's sharing in terms of how he's come to an understanding of what he needs for himself specifically. And I think that's important for a lot of players to understand. Just because something works for one player doesn't necessarily mean it works for you. And you have to really be committed to testing different things and trying different three things to really understand and build a program that, that fits what you need and allows you to accomplish the goals that you have set for yourself. Not everybody's trying to play, you know, 10 plus years professional. But for those of you that are the level of detail that you need to have and the approach you need to take is much different than those of you who are just wanting to maybe make your local team or improve your fitness or, or any of those things.
Quincy Amarikwa (45:33):
So I think it's really great. Ike was highlighting there in terms of his, his personal, his personal process to understand and learn himself in his body and hopefully if we get him into here again, I got a good, I got to kind of follow up question to that in relation to, okay, there you go brother. I'm loving it and we're still, we're getting it in pieces so it's all good man. I know, I'm sorry. I really, I feel like I'm going to owe you one in the future. Oh, I love that. We're going to lock you in on that one. So we're cute. We're community to that, so appreciate it. For sure. So now, man, I'm not okay. Solid. So, all right, so I very much understand what you mean. Like your body is much different, like your physical ability and how you, how you operate.
Quincy Amarikwa (46:21):
Just your body as a, as a whole is not of the typical player or type. Right. I would say I'm very similar in that aspect. And with that comes its own challenges especially in the situation where people are trying to force cookie cutter processes or things on you because it works for other people. How did you, how did you handle that? How did you handle that and what, what were some things that you learned you needed to do or you, you had to accept in order to, to get to where you are now, where you have earned the right to say, Hey, you know what, I'm not doing those extra reps or I need to do this. Yeah. So how did that happen for you?
Ike Opara (47:09):
I think the big thing was, you know, I, I had a lot of people around me who I trusted and I thought, you know, they, they were the only that they recommend something to me. They had their research that specific and it had the research that would specifically benefit to me. And not just the general public you know, and some of those, you know, I, I was traveling an area you know, and at the same time, as much as the new science and all these things that come out, which is a great, there are just some things that are, you know, going to be timeless. And I think being able to figure out those you know, just the simple things of recovery, you know you know, just being able to, you know, understand that, you know, I assemble things as I need to be.
Ike Opara (47:53):
I don't need to be as active in an off day, but I need to be active. And I knew I don't need to be holding my legs. I need to be, you know, on a bike or in the pool or whatever. It'd be, some of these things are just, you know, really, you know, ABCs. But then there are other things that are challenging though when you've got this health product or this new mechanism. And it's like, okay, what, what could work? You know, what I like to say is I figured out what my 80% is, my solid base, the other 20, I will kink her with whether it be maybe nutrition you know, maybe it'd be, you know, more than, you know, the, the, one of the big things out where recently was cuffing and the dry noodling and all those kinds of things. Okay. I will tinker with that a little bit and I'll see if it works for a bit. But before I incorporate that into my schedule or into my regimen, I want to see, you know, results and, and all of these things. So you know, I, that's, that's kind of the, the the, the way I go about it now. And I think it's, you know, it's not everyone, you know, everyone, some people love trying new things all the time, you know, and it's just everyone's a little bit different there.
Quincy Amarikwa (49:03):
Got you. And based on kind of how you're feeling right now and how you've kind of dialed in on your base and the 20% and the experiences you've had overall how, how do you project, where do you see yourself of yourself, the rest of your career? How much longer is your career? What are you doing? What's that look like? [inaudible]
Ike Opara (49:23):
Yeah, no, I, I think about as, I mean, it's kind of, you kind of have to, as you get older right now, I'm not sure, you know, I, there's some guys that want to play as long as humanly possible, and I don't think that that's me. You know, I don't, I just, just not no, I don't, I don't have a ballpark now, whether it be two years or three years, but I know that, you know, when I would like to leave, you know, this game relatively healthy and you know, that, you know, you can go through bumps and bruises, you got things I've kind of lingered and so you know, I can't say that it's not on my mind. And I don't, I don't know when that time will be, but I bet it's sooner rather than later. In all honesty. So, you know, I just try to, and as I've gotten older, I'm just trying to appreciate every, every practice and every game more just because I know that realistically you're towards the end, towards the beginning of my career, that's kind of been one of the reasons why I've been enjoying, you know, the game more more especially less, you know, a couple of years.
Quincy Amarikwa (50:22):
Well, that's awesome. I love that. In terms of just appreciating every training session I think that can be lost by players at every level. You know yeah cause you don't allow everybody, everything, the banter, the, the just ridiculous stories that you're never going to get anywhere other than in a professional locker room. Yeah. No, I love that. And a lot of what you're talking about is huge on mentality and that's what I really love about having this format of the show of like really highlighting the mentality and the, the things that I believe are the reasons why individuals like yourself are successful over the longterm, you know, and it's finding the things that you appreciate about the game because not everything about the game is going to be very enjoyable all the time. I know you are a huge, a huge piece to minute what Minnesota has been building over there and really been helping them change that culture and knowing the talk you were talking about dealing with coming to a culture that wasn't necessarily a winning culture when you showed up as opposed to where you were coming from with Kansas city, with the, with the championship.
Quincy Amarikwa (51:30):
And that ties into the question that was asked over here on how would you go about shifting the mentality of a team that you're on now? And I'm saying that because I go, I know that that was something that you were a part of. They're in Minnesota, correct? Yeah,
Ike Opara (51:42):
Yeah, for sure. I think the big thing is to, you know, not everyone can be a part of that because now I think that ad has had their spec of, you know, the organization and the team, teammates, coaching staff. And so I knew that there was a responsibility on my shoulders and I'll some of the other ones, you know, the other guys that we brought into. And so we had a, a perfect, you know, small group of people who were able to, and, and kind of set the tone for what we want the organization to be. You know, because as an expansion team, you know, very few more so now hit the ground running. You know, Atlanta is one of the few now and you know, LFC and Seattle, but more often than not, you know, expansion teams don't hit the ground running.
Ike Opara (52:27):
So to really, we, yeah, we'd been starting over year after year pretty much until, you know, we got here. And so we, I think we all realized that we had a big moment ahead, opportune moment to solidify our legacies and a complete the way, you know, Ozzy from come up to Seattle, a legend in his own right. And, you know, being able to help this organization was going to be completely different, you know you know, lasting effects on his legacy and then some of the guys like myself. And so it was it was one of the things that we wanted to take and, and, and, you know, grab by the horns and hit the ground running and, you know, that was a pure mentality, safe, you know, it was at the end of the day, you know, do you want, you want it or not, you want to help this organization that's, you know, invested a lot. In a lot of us get to where we want to go because if so, the opportunity is now and and I think we had a lot of guys that, that's all that and, and you know, and took that.
Quincy Amarikwa (53:23):
No, I love that. And then I know we've got maybe like five or six minutes here before Instagram kicks us off, so I want to give you a heads up on that and tie that into, so you're an M you're a certified Emily's vet and you just brought up another certified amylose vet, right? What, why do you believe, why do you believe one Emily's vets are extremely valuable to an organization? And then two, why do you think they're not valued to, or do you believe their value to the level they should be valued?
Ike Opara (53:53):
Yeah, I'll answer the latter one first. Okay. No, usually no, because at the end of the day, like it's all about business. And so you want to suppress kind of, you know what? You can pay an older vet and go get that shiny new toy, you know, is you know, Ozzy Alonzo, you know, as crazy as Arco for as great as he can be and all of these people, that's great. You know, he can do, let's suppress them and let's go find ourselves, you know, Miguel on Marone, you know, or you know, we'll try to find a PD or whatever. Right? So I think that, you know, financially they, we are undervalued. But I think within organizations that are smart, they truly know how valuable a MOS bed is. Especially coming from within the league in is one because like you mentioned earlier before I cut off, there's so many different climates in this league, you know, from output and time zones and altitude turf.
Ike Opara (54:46):
How many teams have turf, you know, it's like you go from mountains one weekend, perfect dry weather to humidity and it's like so many things in the travel, they just don't understand that you've got two countries and the, and the customs and you see these big names to come over and they struggle because they don't understand. They don't get it yet until they get here and they're like, what is going on? So if it's the case, how many great guys do you see come from over Europe? And they struggle in the molest, they go back to Europe and they end up doing well or whatever. It's just a completely different basis. League in terms of the grind and the talent and the mentality. And you know, we, if you are, if you're in MLS for 10 years, you know what to expect them to be.
Ike Opara (55:27):
Like you said, where you go to Houston, you know what to expect when you go to Colorado or you know, Atlanta inside of a dome, all of these things, you know what's coming. Whereas like, you know, and you know how to prepare for that, you know, how to travel, you know, what's needed, hopefully at this point, you know, to, to help you prepare for the game. So, you know, it's, it's always one of those you know, frustrating. I mean every team is different. How they want to build but was you can never underestimate, you know, the, the, the, the wildly back MLS back.
Quincy Amarikwa (55:58):
Yeah. I know you say that. I say that too. Yet they continue to underestimate us.
Ike Opara (56:08):
I don't get it. I don't at the very least you will be competitive and that's, that's the part that's frustrating. No, cause we've got a different hunger, especially if you're, you came in early 2010, 11, 12 like you've a lot different things then you know, maybe some of these young homerooms moving forward, you know, five, six, seven years from now. So your grind is completely different and your, your need and your ability to adapt, you know, hunger, all of it just drastically different than most of the time they're going and getting guys abroad will compensate and they got a different relaxed, it's kind of, we talked about the hunted versus the Hunter,
Ike Opara (56:48):
A different mentality.
Quincy Amarikwa (56:50):
Maybe it is, but I think people will become aware of the hunters mentality here in the, in the coming weeks and months, man. And, but since I know I got you guaranteed some time here in the future, we can definitely wrap it up. And eh, before Instagram kicks me off, I want to make sure we get the whole replay. We will be making sure the full replay of this episode obviously goes live for the next 24 hours. We also do this, the whole perfect soccer team has already 13 of us who work full time to make sure we get the full clip breakdown graphics for the episodes. Publish over to perfect soccer skills.com by six o'clock tomorrow. So head over there, subscribe to the podcast, make sure you re listen to all the knowledge that Ike was dropping on all of you guys today. Like, man, I really appreciate you taking the time and joining us. Is there anything that you wanted to shout out, share highlights to let the people know
Ike Opara (57:47):
Ike Opara (57:47):
More importantly, just they stay, they safe out there. I'm in the world and obviously we won, you know, take care of yourself and hopefully I'll be back on and that can answer all questions. If there with better service and wifi. So I, I owe you one
Quincy Amarikwa (58:04):
Awesome brother. Hey, I appreciate it. Thank you again and we'll be in touch here soon.
Ike Opara (58:10):
All right, sounds good bro. Easy letter bro.
Quincy Amarikwa (58:15):
Yep. So that was Acropora again, I want to make sure that we get this all together. So Instagram doesn't kick us off here, but Instagram will kick me off here in the next couple of seconds. Of course, everything is there. He said, thank you for giving us a soccer knowledge. Of course. Thank you for joining in everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Make sure you follow the account. Turn on push notifications next week. Who we have next week. Can we have some salmon years? Is that who's on next week? Oh my God. I'm forgetting. I'm forgetting who the guest is for next week cause I, I know we're still confirming it, so make sure you guys be on the lookout. I'll be dropping that here soon. But we've got a United States women's national team player Jordan in on the call. Earl's been helping us to say, yep. Sam muse. Thank you very much. Cause I wasn't sure if it was her or not that was confirmed, but Sam muse will be joining us here next week, so make sure you guys follow and turn off, push notifications and make sure you catch the replay. I will catch everybody here next Thursday, 6:00 PM PST, 9:00 PM EST and drop your, I mean your head emojis, tag the account. Let me know what you learned from today's episode. I'll make sure to reassure you on this account and every other accounts. Thanks again guys and I will see everybody next week.