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Aaron Kovar should be the left back of the future

As fullbacks become wingbacks, shouldn't Seattle Sounders FC's best traditional wide player be given the opportunity to provide width for the team?

JaneG Photography

For most of the MLS season Aaron Kovar has sat on the bench. His name only called three times from the 18 to the field of MLS play, he spends his time learning, absorbing and waiting. Kovar is kind of unique on the squad. He may be the best crosser of the ball and he's the most traditional of the wide players on the roster (the rest are inverted wingers, act like inverted wingers or are converted central midfielders who tuck inside). Kovar stays wide.

And yet.

Modern soccer isn't using as many of those types of players. Even teams that play 4-4-2 are using their fullbacks like wingbacks these days. They bomb forward (this is why the central mids are playing at wide mid). They are athletic, passers of the ball and not as good at defense as traditional fullbacks. Just look at Timmy Chandler, Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin, Dylan Remick's early season, Dillon Serna with the US U-23s and so many more.

Kovar's got a bit of a chance at playing left back. Almost all in Reserves play. Some of this is because the roster was short at CB so Remick was playing in the middle and someone has to play out left. Some of it is to develop his defense because he didn't really need to play it much when the Sounders Academy was dominating and Stanford didn't need that either.

Left Back Left Mid
Starts Sub Minutes Assists Starts Sub Minutes Assists
Reserve League 4 1 417 2 1 90 1
Open Cup 1 90 1
League Play 2 6 1 8
USL PRO 1 1 123
TOTAL 4 3 423 2 3 2 311 2

More of it needs to be because he fits the mold of the modern fullback. He's fast, in the tops of the team for both burst speed and prolonged runs. His cross is magnificent. He hugs the line well for overlapping. Kovar's got strong dribbling skills (he's dabbled as a central player in reserve scrimmages). He is tactically aware. His defense is adequate and improving.

Leo Gonzalez is not going to play forever and the contest for minutes at left mid is only going to get more crowded with the talents on the current team and waiting to sign their HGP deals. There will be minutes available and his style of play suits the modern fullback.

Remick is better at speed and defense, which are of course important. One of those can be learned. Being quite young, the chance that Aaron can learn the new role is good. Plus, Kovar's speed isn't a weakness. If one were to trust FIFA 15 scouting (their pace # is well off as Kovar's faster than Okoli) the difference in defense isn't great.

Aaron Kovar is the type of player who needs lots of minutes on a team like the still-not-announced Sounders USL PRO side. Imagine him getting two dozen games as a left back with the improved defense and tactical knowledge that only experience gets you. This is exactly why Seattle Sounders FC needs their new feeder club. There are players who have exciting professional futures on the team that can't develop into their most useful role with the MLS side without playing.

Just maybe this suggested experiment works and a Ramos & Co sees what Kovar does. Can he be a better left back than a Dillon Serna?

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