Seattle Sounders had three players with the Homegrown Player (HGP) designation last season, but all three failed to make much of an impact on the Seattle first team. Aaron Kovar, Victor Mansaray, and Darwin Jones all played significant minutes for S2 and impressed staff in training, but they were unable to be make more than a handful of appearances for the Sounders.
In a postseason conference call, Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey gave some updates on where the club stands with each player.
It sounds like we'll see much more of Aaron Kovar in the first team this season:
He played well at times. He does what a lot of young players do: he's very good and he has some inconsistency. It's incumbent upon him to keep working, and I think he has worked. He's shown quite a bit for a young player, and it's incumbent upon us on the other side to give him more opportunities. I think he's only gonna get more. I think he's a player that we are gonna look to to really get a chance next season.
As a younger player, Victor Mansaray is likely to be seen more for S2 than the Sounders first team again:
[Mansaray] may take a little bit more time. He's been great since the end of the season, he's been seeking out opportunities to play not just with the S2 guys when they train but also with the academy. I think we need to be cognizant of his age and where he is, and continue to think of him as more of a long-term project.
Darwin Jones, after playing quite a bit for the first team last season, looks set to spend more time with S2:
Darwin is a little bit older, but still not a ton of experience after college. Because of some of the injury situations we found ourselves in, Darwin got pressed into service with the first team. He was great and he worked hard and did everything he could for the first team, but I think it might have been better for Darwin to play with the second team a little bit more.
Of the three homegrown players, Jones saw the most first team action with nine appearances while Aaron Kovar had the only two starts from the whole group. None of the players tallied assists or goals in their first team appearances. Kovar, Mansaray, and Jones played 18, 17, and 15 matches for S2, respectively. Jones scored five goals in those appearances, while Kovar and Mansaray notched one each. Kovar stands out with four assists though, while the other two have just one assist each.
Even though it seems that we'll see more of Kovar with the Sounders in 2016, Lagerwey was hesitant about rushing any of the young players into heavy first team action if they're not ready. "If we leave young players down with S2, we raise the level of play of that team. We allow some of the young players to gain some confidence, and that better equips them to succeed when they do come up to the Sounders."