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2016 Player Profile #18: Aaron Kovar

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Aaron Kovar earned a lifetime treble with the MLS Cup victory in 2016.

Sounders vs. Earthquakes: Photos Photo Credit - MikeRussellFoto

Aaron Kovar was Seattle’s first Homegrown Player that won Gatorade Washington State Player of the Year. He was in the Academy for a couple of years, and then went to Stanford. Now, he is a young champion, regularly getting invites to training in the UK. A natural left mid who runs the touch-line, in 2016 Kovar became an inverted right-winger who threatened to score.

The ranking is based on several hundred Sounder at Heart readers’ votes. Realio rated every single MLS regular season and playoff game as well as the two CONCACAF Champions League matches. He did not rate USL or USOC play.

Aaron Kovar 2016

Competitions Minutes Starts Subs Goals Assists Realio Rating
Competitions Minutes Starts Subs Goals Assists Realio Rating
MLS 811 10 5 1 0 5.94
MLS Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0
USOC 156 2 0 0 0 N/A
CCL 36 0 2 0 0 5
USL 151 2 0 1 0 N/A
TOTALS 1154 14 7 2 0
Average 5.8

Offense:

Developed into an interesting option as a right sided attacker in Seattle’s offense. Though his passing within the new role was often effective, unfamiliarity with shooting became problematic over time. Kovar has the best left foot to come through Seattle’s Academy, but needs to work on his right. Good to great set-piece service, stronger crossing than expected from the right, but at times a slow trigger due to the need to switch to his left foot.

Defense:

Strong enough read of the defensive side of the game to play at left back, and applies that awareness when in the attacking band. Wise beyond his 23 years. Sometimes lacks the strength to knock an opponent off the ball. Quick feet can get a poke though. Not effective in dead ball situations.

Physique:

A clavicle injury detracted from Kovar’s progress in 2016. He remains nimble, fast and a willing tackler, especially for an attacking player. Does fade late in games, though likely mental as his performances in endurance testing is nearly unrivaled.

Realio’s Thoughts:

Just like the Sounders, Aaron Kovar’s 2016 was a tale of two seasons - unfortunately, his was the opposite of the team. Aaron started off seeing time in both CCL games and transitioned into a valuable asset for the first team until the middle of the year, getting 15 appearances before breaking his collarbone in an Open Cup match vs. LA Galaxy. His improvement up to this point was easily visible and on a sharp upward trajectory. He looked more and more comfortable on the ball and was a bright spot at times for a team that struggled mightily around him.

After appearing in 75% of the games for coach Sigi Schmid, injury rehab and the arrival of some new players limited Aaron to a single substitute appearance for coach Brian Schmetzer. His 5 rating in a 15-minute substitute appearance late season against Dallas dropped Kovar slightly to 5.94 for MLS games. This cumulative rating is almost half a ratings point up from his 5.6 during the 2015 season and he more than tripled his number of appearances from last year. This is great improvement from a young player who was clearly on an upward trajectory before his injury.

Wielding good speed and great endurance, Kovar will be a prospect wide for the 2016 season. Still only 23, he can play either side – cutting inverted from the right and a direct scoring option or hugging the line on the left and serving in crosses. His touch and set piece delivery is some of the best on the team, but it remains to see how Aaron will fit into the current iteration of SSFC. Older players leaving has opened the door for Kovar to regain the sort of minutes he saw in the first half of 2016. He looks to be a player who, if he keeps improving at the rate he did last year, should be in the conversation for spot starts and regular inclusion in the game day 18.

Best Case 2017:

A roational spot in the attacking band. He has a cross that is now unrivaled on the team, and could offer a bit in the dead-ball department. There is a chance - a small one - that Kovar earns the time he had prior to the injury.