After a fourth consecutive season of failing to find reliable playing time, Aaron Kovar’s tenure with the Seattle Sounders may be up. The Seattle native was loaned to LAFC on Tuesday, meaning he’s almost certainly gone for the entire year at a minimum. At the end of the loan, LAFC will have the option to make the move permanent.
By MLS rosters rules, Kovar won’t be able to play in either of LAFC’s matches against the Sounders and he’ll have to remain there for at least until the summer transfer window. It also opens a roster spot for the Sounders, putting them at 23 without counting any of the three players that were recently selected in the SuperDraft.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Aaron to gain playing experience and further his development as a player with exposure to another club,” Sounders General Manager Garth Lagerwey said in a team release. “LAFC provides a new, competitive environment for Aaron and we feel this loan benefits all parties.”
Kovar started last year seemingly poised for a breakout. In 2016, he set career highs in appearances (16) and starts (10). Although he battled an injury toward the end of the season and never regained his spot, he had shown enough promise to vie for a spot in the regular rotation.
But a groin injury early in 2017 kept him out for the first 12 games and he was again on the outside looking in by the time he got healthy. His final appearance was perhaps indicative of his entire Sounders career. In that game (Aug. 5, 2017 at Vancouver), Kovar had several bright moments and even had an opportunity to seal the victory with a late chance. But after making a nice play to control the ball, and with Clint Dempsey open at the far post, Kovar’s shot was blocked. After the final whistle, Kovar was clearly distraught.
For all of Kovar’s willingness to put in training time and obvious skills — his left foot is definitely MLS quality — he was just never able to put together the final product when it mattered most. Kovar’s five professional goals — two in last year’s U.S. Open Cup, one in MLS play and two more over four USL seasons — were fewer than you’d probably expect from a player of his talent. It’s entirely possible that all he needed was an extended look or a fresh start, and in that sense, this might be a good move for all involved.